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Postcard home from Antarctica
                               To my mother

by Kristan Hutchison

Remember when you led me, branch by branch,
to the treetops? I clung there, swaying
as sparrows flew below. You pointed out the edge
of our meadow, a hidden pond, the far-off mountains.
You knew how to take the pitch off our hands with peanut butter,
catch a snake in the grass,
let go of the bicycle seat when I wasn’t watching.
And I would turn to see you waving behind me
“It’s OK. Keep pedaling.”

So here I am, about as far as anyone can go;
beyond trees and snakes and even bicycles.
Now the doctor says your sap is poisoned.
Your limbs creak and moan with each slow step.
Your hair sheds like fall leaves.
It’s my turn to soothe your fever, the way you
once sanded grief from my forehead with palms rough as bark.

When you fall, as all trees must, the noise will roar
in my ears, but what I fear is the hole
when your roots rip from the earth.

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