Derek R. Smith :: “Poem as infiltrated tree”

When there’s even a chance
An alternative universe
Where we end up together,
You’ll find you have become
One of those bugs that burrows pathways
In the very being of my tree.
Laborious ruts that tore away something,
Hidden just below the bark— invisible— until I’m felled.
There’s no telling the damage you have done.
Moving forward as you do
Making your own trail
Perhaps contributing to
My eventual demise,
Tiny beaver gnawing at my cellulose stability.
What resilience that a forest lineage 
Has been instilled in me.
My internalized tattoos force reflection
On what I have allowed
to let grow on me.
As seasons change,
The home I provide to mycelia and 
Plume-ed aviators as they twitterpate, 
Not to mention the rodentia I have cohabitated with.
As seasons change,
I see me change too.
My glorious autumnal fire
A dropped facade
And naked here I stand, 
Then spring forth
Wearing only
My exquisite robe of rare resilience.


Derek R. Smith (he/him) is a public health professional, Anishinaabe two-spirit, uncle, sibling, partner, friend, who finds it hard to not write poetry. He has 2023 publications in Great Lakes Review, ¡Pa’lante!, euphony, Inlandia, Lucky Jefferson, and others. There is no space for distance here, in poetry, and isn’t that a beautiful thing?