Home > Poetry > 6th Annual Women’s Tree-Climbing Workshop
Published: Wed Jul 1 2015
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
6th Annual Women’s Tree-Climbing Workshop

There are, of course
the favorite holds—

a particular pair
of arm-shaped branches

a higher place to straddle
the sycamore, bark rubbed smooth
where it meets the trunk

you can wrap yourself around it,
in that spot

Some of us stick to these positions
where we can smell the honey
from the hive at fifty feet

but others will make it that far,
tightening their harnesses

to break off a piece of comb,
to lick it clean, to chew the wax

One of us reaches the top
by naming every branch Mitch
as she presses her boot into it

and one of us breaks a limb under her weight
but no one makes her cry

One of us climbs only seven feet into the tree
and says, well this is taller than Jonathan

and she looks down into the grass
and each of us are feeling things

and each of us are inside her head
opening her mouth, saying

this is taller than Jonathan in his work boots
this is taller than Jonathan on a ladder

this is taller than Jonathan when he stands on the bed
and looks down at me

We can see it, we can imagine that
if we even have to

Some of us climb higher
but some of us don’t have to

For some of us, he’s already a speck

Kasey Erin Phifer-Byrne was raised in southeastern Pennsylvania and lives in Tucson, Arizona. She holds an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her work is published or forthcoming in The Best New Poets 2015, West Branch, The Journal, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. (updated 12/2015)

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