My toes are prone to nails ingrown;
I keep digging up my nailbeds,
like a gardener turns soil to help
Though my feet were not made for flowers,
so maybe I’m made of more tree limbs;
but resounding cracks are telltale
sign of a forest falling
Because my roots never took to ground.
I am prone to uprooting myself–
there is an inherent urge to move
crawling under my skin,
limbs thirsty for solid ground;
My roots tangled up
somewhere between Chesapeake Bay
and the muddy Rio Grande;
over-watered in Georgia’s swamp lands.
And Northern Ontario’s long, harsh winters
see so much time for roots to freeze–
this ground is frozen-hard
long into spring.
But then maybe I was never a tree
never flowering dogwood, dancing in the breeze
or strong pinon pine, stretching to the sky,
nor wizened oak or mighty maple-tree.
The truth is I never identified
with constant perennial things.
I never thought of myself as
I always wished to be a bird
and my patterns of coming and going,
like migration, supported that:
I am notorious for leaving.
I am prone to preening:
prettying up like peacock,
but more like a rock dove:
hardy/hearty (but not much to look at).
Recently, I’ve preened so much
my feathers have begun to fall out
and fail my wish for flight
(though there are those that could fly,
and instead use their battered feet:
like a roadrunner in the desert light)
But at least my tangled roots and faulty feathers
have proven to be
a fine nest — built for two —
Daughters, who are still trying to spread their wings
like their mother would like to do;
Daughters, who plant flowers
with their every blessed step;
Daughters, who have taught me
that I was never meant to be a tree,
but maybe that’s where my home
was meant to be.
And I can have wings,
And still be steady.
© Maxine L. Peseke, April 2020
artwork by Katrina K Guarascio
Maxine L. Peseke is a writer, mother, and sometimes freelance editor. She is currently living in a small Northern Ontario town, transplanted from New Mexico respectively (and most recently) where she originally met each of Saturday’s Sirens as part of the Albuquerque poetry community.