Water-logged roots

after the storm

there is a dryad on my roof

and the river is licking the porch

like it can taste freedom in the foundation

got news for you, bayou baby,

there’s only things to hold you back in there

best look elsewhere for escape.

I splash out to take a better look

and the tree tells me to be careful of fire ants

floating spheres of pain

surrounding the precious queen in the middle

ready to swarm.

Well, I’m not impressed with that.

We’re all trying to protect something

(aren’t we?)

and we’ll sting to do so if it comes down to it.

Besides, I’ve got on my granddaddy’s waders

they still smell like fish and stale cigarette smoke

though he’s been gone twelve years now

if the reek of memories won’t keep the biting things back

maybe his ghost will.

My granddaddy didn’t care about flood or fire 

he set the lawn ablaze once with a careless butt

smoke and flame carried on the wind of dryer days

but that’s long passed now

and I’m past the washed-out gravel driveway

looking back

at the combination of oak and house 

thinking sweaty chainsaw thoughts

though she looks so pretty up there

such a jaunty angle

crowning the house with leaves

She says she don’t care what I do,

being uprooted makes her cavalier like that 

but maybe I care.

I slap a mosquito off my arm

and consider the smear of blood there 

thicker than water, they say

though I never did know what density has to do with it

so little floats in this brackish mess

but underneath the oak branches

in the broken eggshell attic 

are baby books, old military uniforms

fishing poles, holiday ornaments

yearbooks nibbled by silverfish

all being caressed by the dryad’s twiggy fingers.

Right then

with the sun slanting through the clouds

and mud churning around boots

my heart whispers

let the beetles have it

let the gators sleep like logs in front of the tv

and eat defrosted frozen meals

let the sandhill cranes stalk through the living room

and the bedrooms fill with black mold

eating baby blankets and pillows and teddy bears

spreading like gravy stains on the thanksgiving dinner linens

I’m done protecting this stuff

and ready to put me at the center 

swarming for dryer land and better places

there’s a car in the garage

gassed up, right next to the mower

ready to go

I don’t care about water getting in

I just want to get out

little metal ants are marching down the interstate

back into the state they fled

ready for reconstruction

clogging the roadways south

while my eye turns north

just like the storm did

considering deconstruction instead

right now

this moment

the getting is good

let’s go

mm

Author: Cislyn Smith

Cislyn Smith (she/her) likes playing pretend, playing games, and playing with words. She grew up in Florida but calls Madison, Wisconsin her home now. She has been known to crochet tentacles, write stories at odd hours, and study stone dead languages. She is occasionally dismayed by the lack of secret passages in her house. Cislyn’s poems and stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Diabolical Plots, and Daily Science Fiction, among other places. She is a first reader for Uncanny Magazine and Giganotosaurus, a graduate of the Viable Paradise Workshop, and one of the founding members of the Dream Foundry.

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