Turpentine Tree
by Lynne Hjelmgaard

Jost Van Dyke

The backdoor still opens
onto the turpentine tree
—a cross between an alien
and a faux god—
species from the underworld
with coveted peeling bark

For each year that passes
it slips further into the void—
with a torn t-shirt hanging
from its limbs and the company
of a heron and billy goat
enjoying the intimacy
of our outdoor shower

It slips further and further
with prickly pear cactuses
and golden century plants—
the alluring pink-ish beach
and dangerous reef
that scares day trippers away

It lifts out of the stony ground
mindful of cacti needles
and yellow eyes of rats who relish
our abandoned house
flying into the eye of the storm


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