Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Eucalyptus

by Judith Skillman

In the grove the groaning, by which she feels herself
kin to these trees that lean and shift, their silver
skin naked, bark peeling dark and light into shelves

of curls. The scent, from scribbly gums, winds her
deeper in. How does age turn a person soft
when—white, green, cream, gray, or copper—the years

crown these trunks. In her last life she could lift
infants, carry jugs of water, inhabit
the strange rites of fertility. Rifts

with the man, rendered null. He’d sit
next to her like a child entranced by luxuries
after every argument. He wasn’t diffident,

rather, overcome by musk as night rose
like a cloud of blue to oil their aching, soothe
with words and warmth—that kind of happiness

rare in these times, the everlasting mouth
of death, its hunger, its means of infringing
even on marriage, as the next wife awaits her troth.