“Collector” by Diamond Irwin

I keep their carvings close.
In my cotton pocket,
I’ve stored these stolen
tongues of bark and
moss.

I cut into trees to make my
collection. I carry
the initials of lovers that
I find through the fields.

It’s always winter
when I collect. I’ll blame my
boots for letting ice leak in.
No one will be there to wipe
the season’s snow from
the brim of my hat.

My knife will
break through
rings of leaves and into
thick wood. I’ll lift
by metal, grope
by hand.

New loves, new forevers,
will come and
replace the loves
I’ve already taken.
I doubt they know that
I’ll take them too.

Close to cotton, they’ll
be; the bark branded
by the young won’t ever
leave me to find a way back
to tree or stem.

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