The trees glistened the morning I shot my new pellet gun
at the hornet nest hanging in the rafters.

Afar, a train horn billowed. Closer,
linnets sang the cool air. From above,

the train-tracks could have been
one of those long black threads I pull out of my jeans

and I nothing at all among the slowly
disappearing pines, each one it seemed then

filled with birds. Linnets learn
their songs by the sea but when they sing

all I hear is beech tree, beech tree. I’ve known it
since I was a child—a shadow

behind us erases each
step we take so years, hours later, we can’t prove

who we’ve been. Why did I ever think
I could learn its name?

Jackson Holbert‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Willow Springs, Colorado Review, FIELD, and Best New Poets 2016, among others. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the Bucknell University Stadler Center for Poetry and a poetry editor at the Adroit Journal. He can be found on twitter @JacksonHolbert.