Heather Holliger
August 2012

You can survive on only ten inches of living skin.
While I count my birthdays, sticking white twist-candles

into yellow cakes, you grow a new layer of flesh
from your cambium, a ring of growth 1/100th of an inch.

In your rings, in your old skins, you’ve recorded the climates—
dry seasons, wet years, temperatures, and you tell us

about soil and wind and bedrock, even about sunspots.
Written in your rings is a story about us; we call it

dendrochronology, as if you were a fossil, or bones,
but no, your needles are green, you make red-purple

flowers in the spring, you are the oldest known still alive.
If I had roots like yours, if I could drink from limestone,

if I could endure through a mere twelve inches of rainfall,
I would make of myself a knotted, gnarled faith, a multi-trunked, branching desire.

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