“Gold and Silver Tree,” by Janice Phelps Williams, ink on paper, ca. 2008. Used with permission.

by Angela Sue Winsor

When bending the wood … the cells have memory,
which they try to return to … they spring back.

Say Bodark—for a pretty-leafed thing.
Hers are shiny, narrow, smoothed
curves. Pretty useful, too. Ask the man
who’d use her. Strong wood, farm wood.
Ripe fruit, sweet juice to fill the bellies
of pigs, to shade a home, and rest beside
while he still thinks of her as pretty.

Say Hedge Wood—she remembers
the home she once hedged, protected.
The best memory of any wood, even
as the splintering started. The man’s
hands, the wood shards, branches bent
behind her. She springs back, remembers.

Say Bow Wood—when she reserves
the right not to bow or be gas lit, wood-
flamed, but to barb with thorns and milk
sap of her own. Flowers; inconspicuous.
Fruits; garish-green, very conspicuous.
They fall in echoes, to be trampled, eaten.
Still, she reserves the right to grow them.

Say Yellow Wood—for decay resistance.
He strips her bare to make yellow-wood
walls, yellow-wood floors, yellow-wood
fence posts. With so little left on the bone,
he calls her a weed of pastures and ranges,
says she should go and feel free to decay.

Say Mock-Orange—but speak gently to
her, too. Still tough-boned wood, alone
in quiet grove now. Know her by her crown
of irregular, reaching branches. Her trunk-
spine, arched torso, deeply-furrowed bark.
Her roots laterally spread open, unable to
forget. She still thinks she has to sturdy
herself, spring back, remember everything.

omega man

Angela Sue Winsor is a writer and photographer from South Florida. She currently lives, writes, and teaches in North Carolina where she is earning her MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She holds an MA in English from Auburn University. Her writing has been featured in Southern Humanities Review, Saw Palm, and NELLE.