Deborah Rosch Eifert
Green Voices
(after Alphabet by Inger Christensen)

chicory clusters,
digging roots deep.

Early each evening, branches etch
filigree against drifting clouds, reflected on the flat,
glazed river. Distant girls giggle on a porch; men's voices growl indistinct replies.

Heartbeats hide in the trees – a recent scientific discovery. The Great Horned Owl, attentive, hears them. Hope-filled, the hazels and hickories

incline toward each other. Owl pellets, identified in daytime, indicate a roost. Time insists on passing. Instead of walking, I am developing rhizomes. Green voices infiltrate, informing – I know what an iris knows. Impatient,

juncos jitter at my feet. Sudden, jolting, my joints crack as cartilage alters. Startled, a chipmunk jumps, fleeing. Javelinas clatter over jumbled stone paths, I cannot jerk away. Justice is hardly ever given to the rooted. Streaming sunlight casts jagged leaf shadows. Jackdaws utter jabber. Jealous, blue jays fly into my hair just as my

keratin is altering to wood – but who knows – am I better off, or worse, because of the verdant sap sluicing upward from my roots? How do the katsura, the rowan, comprehend green ideas? All light glows jade to me. Constrained by bark, I cannot kick my feet. My kneecaps, knots, a swirled interruption in the grain. My arms kink skyward. King ferns unfurl from the moss-kilim below me. A buckthorn speaks kind words. Kudzu wears an emerald kimono, babbling hasty, unintelligible nonsense – yet I construe meaning in kingfishers' cries.

Lost. Lanterns light the distant cabin's porch. Lizst is playing in dim memory or a far-off radio, I'm not sure which… Leaf litter's leathery smell rises where clumps of mushrooms huddle under oaks. Lichens lip at my feet. Little tendrils of blind rootlets spread to touch other trees' hidden lifelines. Limbs stretch toward liquid light. Squirrels patter along branches, camouflaged by lengthening shadows. Lighthearted sparrows chip-chip to each other, but tufted titmice are mournful, calling out to someone long gone: peter, peter, peter - loneliness is not limited to human beings. Lucid, I listen to loops of unbidden words – I am learning, osmotically, the unspoken names for "green." Birch saplings whisper – papery voices – "the plenitude of leaf doubt," answered in feathery murmurs, "lesser is the evil of flight." I know: that lindens envy lupines' bright, colorful disorder; how I am less truly lost, than leaving.