Joshua Banta

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 123 in June, 2010.

Ignoring the scratchy bark
she pressed her ear against it
and listened to the parasites hollow its insides.

She collected its broken limbs
near the trembling trunk
to sit beside it.

She thinks of her caged parrot
how still he stayed every time she clipped his wings
as if ashamed to be a flying thing.

That night her parents found her lying beneath it
her nose buried in its nape
clutching her sleepy fists about the loosened fur.

They left her there till morning
knowing that dogs dream in aromas
and little girls will one day lose their smell.