Uprooting a Tree | By Jamie Wendt
There is always risk
when uprooting a tree.
Generation after generation,
we yank roots from the earth,
and no one can recall
the first seed, the place a root
splits. My tongue names a new species
that my sons can never understand.
I kiss their foreheads at night
and they grow into strangers,
laughing in their sleep.
I remember the lanky boy in Kove Guberdnia
who ate copper coins from his parents’ wallet
rather than be forced on a ship to America.
He ate half of their fortune.
His fingers were orange, smelled like dirt.
He swung from trees, a monkey-snake,
rushed to me one day across the road
where I often dug, pat soil,
grabbed weeds, planted flowers.
He shoved his splintered hand in my face.
I already sensed I would be a mother to sons.
I tweezed out the tiny wood with my black nails,
licked his red wound
slow and hot, prophesied
he would remain a boy
forever running from himself
without guilt in his chest,
without pages between his lips,
without an ocean to hold him steady.
– Mena “Minnie” Pretcovitz, 1905
About the Author:
Jamie Wendt is the author of the poetry collection Fruit of the Earth (2018) and winner of the 2019 National Federation of Press Women Book Award. Her poetry, essays, and book reviews have been published in various literary journals and anthologies, including Feminine Rising: Voices of Power and Invisibility, Lilith, Literary Mama, The Forward, Third Wednesday, and Saranac Review. She holds an MFA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She teaches high school English and lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.