MARIGOLD WOMAN: Bless those paper saints

The rain sings the price of happiness as it drills into the patient earth. The maple trees write their complicated poetry in black against the night sky, dappling stanzas against the butter-thick darkness, leaves and samaras punctuating the lines.

Talk to me, I say to them. Tell me what you understand of the world.

They answer, treelike, in the reflection of a streetlight on the wet asphalt. I have not wit enough to understand the answer, but I absorb the flickering yellow reply as best I can.

Love, I tell them, is a thing made of knives. It cuts me everywhere I turn, it tears the hem of my black dress to ribbons. What do you make of that?

They respond in the distant hum of a passing airliner, but my thoughts run off through the dark clouds to California, and whatever the trees were trying to tell me is lost as I stop to dry my eyes.

I think I am crazy, I say to the trees once I have returned to my body. I am burning up with the blank wanting. I cannot go home and I cannot go to the desert and I cannot enter the swamp and I can never, ever turn my face towards the black land again. I sit on fences and pick at my scabs, but this is so false that I can feel myself going insane, that cotton-ball feeling, that carousel rollercoaster sunspot sensation. What does it mean?

The trees are disappearing into the profundity of the universe overhead. This, too, is an answer, but I am once again too dull to read it.

I will wrap myself in my grief and my anger, and I will hope that at least the trees do not despise me.