My neighbor, in her green gloves and plastic bunny mask, is training her pear tree—a child, really—to stand straight, arms outstretched. The tree goes two-dimensional with this effort. It’s a training meant to bring beauty; symmetry. Every year as the branches grow, there is more length to tie down. To plant a no-shitting-dogs icon in the square of dirt around what you’d call the tree’s trunk, my neighbor trades the bunny mask for raccoon. The tree is drawn and quartered, though my neighbor is kind; encouraging. Things grow well around her. She binds the tree’s branches to the frame with twisties. She pushes the raccoon mask onto the top of her head so she can see what she’s doing. When the tree is old enough to bear fruit, pears will hang from the frame like a row of pears at the market. When the other neighbor walks by, the one who calls me fucking white whore, will she admire the honey blush around the pears’ dangling bottoms? And will I? My neighbor puts a new mask on. What a collection! This one is the tusked wild boar. Dangerous, delicious. G. says we’re each a little queer in our queer little way. Kurt C. said something similar in the nineties but I’m not sure he meant what she means. If I sit still, I feel what moves through my carotid. A pot of bones boils in the kitchen. I render the spring fat. I lay my hands on me.
Zoë Ryder White lives in Brooklyn with her family, writing poems and editing books for educators about the craft of teaching. Her poems have appeared in Sixth Finch, Threepenny Review, Crab Creek Review, and Subtropics, among others.