Growing a Forest

I must be in the woods again with the boys,
or so my grandmother thinks as she talks to my aunt.
I browse old geography magazines in the attic.
I open the journals upside down and shake them
till all the letters fall and I sow these letters
in cracks between the floorboards.

Now I’m in the attic woods
of coniferous and broad-leaf
trees under the roof, this wooden cloud.
I climb on a birch, daring it to become
a rocket on which I could go
look for a piece of private skyland.
As the tree roots snake down below
to the kitchen and the living room
I try to pull them up but the floor begins to crack.

My starving forest needs water to survive,
yet I don’t want it to ruin my grandmother’s house
and don’t let roots go deep down into the ground.
Instead, I shrink each tree with a light touch
and arrange all of them inside my backpack.

Bent, I tiptoe down the stairs, down the dirt road,
Past the neighbor whose saw cuts through a white bark,
past the stream surveilled by dragonflies
to the woods where my grandmother thought I played.
I plan to bury my attic woods in the clearing.
But instead I tie each trunk I made to the trees
that surround the rectangle of needles and grass.

I tie a hundred trees I grew out of letter seeds
to a hundred pines, beeches, and oaks
like the wounded to be carried to safety.
Before I leave, I beg them not to give up, to wait
till they are strong enough to stand on their own.

Agnieszka Tworek was born and raised in Poland. Her poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, The Sun, Diode, Spillway, and The Best American Poetry 2018. She lives in Vermont.