Each night she waits by the road
in a thin white dress
embroidered with fire.
It has been twenty years
since her house surged and burst in the dark trees. 5
Still nobody goes there.
The heat charred the branches
of the apple trees,
but nothing can kill that wood.
She will climb into your car 10
but not say where she is going
and you shouldn’t ask.
Nor should you try to comb the blackened nest of hair
or press the agates of tears
back into her eyes. 15
First the orchard bowed low and complained
of the unpicked fruit,
then the branches cracked apart and fell.
The windfalls sweetened to wine
beneath the ruined arms and snow. 20
Each spring now, in the grass, buds form on the tattered wood.
The child, the child, why is she so persistent
in her need? Is it so terrible
to be alone when the cold white blossoms come to life and burn? 25