Alice Pettway’s chapbook, Barbed Wire and Bedclothes, is forthcoming from Spire Press, Inc. later this year. She is a former Lily Peter Fellow, Raymond L. Barnes Poetry Award Winner, and two-time Pushcart Prize Nominee and has published work in The Bitter Oleander, The Connecticut Review, Crab Creek Review, Lullwater Review, The Mid-America Poetry Review, and others. Alice holds an M.F.A. in creative writing. She, her husband, and their husky currently live in Fayetteville, AR.

Confession of the Oak Tree

I would shed my leaves in an instant,
if I could shake their delicate skeletons

off my frame, those brittle reminders
of last season’s small failures.

I want to be bare and unencumbered.
Strip me naked; my rough bark

no longer shames me the way it used to.
Leave smooth skin to the saplings,

tender and thin, yet to survive
the droughts and floods I have weathered.

Sheath me in gnarled knobs and dimples,
a woody armor thick enough

to protect the sap I used to spill
at the peck of every careless bird.

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