Pruning the Rubber Tree


Because you want it to grow
out then up, to fatten first
before reaching the corner
of the water-stained window
sill where the most light
enters. For the third time
in as many hours a neighbor
materializes behind a storm
door and turns his face west to east
in another kind of hesitation.
His bulging knees like ancient
softballs, spider veins splintering
his anatomy, all heading
the same place. Aren’t we all
heading the same place? You
turn the kitchen shears from palm
to palm. Want, thirst, ego shimmy
up the blades. Everything bends
toward its purpose. Whether
this is intentional you cannot say
but because you want this tree
to grow out then up, to grow right,
you locate each knuckle, force the blades
together then open together then open.
Milky white fluid oozes from the wounds,
and when you’ve finished—amazement.
The gingery roots of your hands
whole and strong and everything ripening
under your skin and your neighbor
at his door again, head wavering
like a weather vane before a squall.

Leigh Anne Hornfeldt lives in Kentucky with her husband and three young sons. Her poems have appeared widely in journals, and in 2012 she was a semifinalist for the Mary Kay Ballard Poetry Prize and received the Kudzu Prize in Poetry.

Save pageEmail pagePrint page

1 comment

Comments are closed.