Brenda Mann Hammack



ALPHABET OF TREES
        A dreadful twang came from the springs;
        The bed unfolded great black wings.
                                            —Edward Gorey

As Victorine's voice falters into cough-laced sleep,
bottle flies like bits of noctilucence clink amid aspens'
crooks and buds (precocious in late winter). By dawn, a
dream-thick fugue (or sluggishness) suffuses all in
ember light. What leaves remain congeal in resin as
fossil fairies might.   
                                If prehistoric owl or fruit bat
glazed and petrified in alders' grottoed sides, if sylphides  
hovered lifelessly, but weren’t extinct despite their rigor,
if mahogany re-leafed, the very bed might splinter,
jerk, then heave beneath the flowered weight of curtain.  
Knobs and headboard, twisting, might sprout horn buds,
luminiferous excrescences.  
                                            The child might not wake.
Manx cat might traipse down hallways lined with books
no cases could ever keep as whorls raised patterns that
oozed and steeped to nut-brown vortexes. Prehensile
pupae might, like Victorine, seek handhold, reach.
Quiescently reckoning, they might do lots of things.

Reality does not require belief.  Neither does imagination.

Supposing all those trees, transfixed as leafless beings,
turned into something grander than piano, clock, or
undressed odalisque, even Ingres must admit, no
Venetian could be more grotesque: limbs wresting to
wing-bones, flexed.  
                                If bed, suddenly, ascended into
Xanadu (or exosphere), would Victorine, unwaking, hear
yearling pterodactyl's cry as twanging?  Would syrinx,
zealously indulged, remind those leaves of quaking?





Brenda Mann Hammack teaches creative writing, children’s literature, and Victorian literature at Fayetteville State University.  Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of journals, including Mudlark, Word Riot, Heliotrope, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Arsenic Lobster, and The Hurricane Review.








                                    

 

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