Tayve Neese

The Orchard

Powder coated the husband’s skin.
After arsenic, the wife

loathed the trees, their gnarl and limb,
trunks made thick
by blood of buried children—

the ones who could never latch
at breast, the ones from birth, limp.

The toddlers who cut teeth
on cores from pulp turned to sauce,

their tumors grew in lung and brain.
When she buried her husband, she left—
never ate the fruit again.

Now, who tethers the old vine,
burns the broken
branches of the orchard?

Now speckled cocoons
are the only cradles, roots
grow deeper, entangle like hairs of lovers.

Trees have company of larvae’s soft tooth at their core,
worms whittle and gnaw, their loosening
of seeds as the soil splits into young limbs.