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Audio: Read by the author. 

                               I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.
                           —Theodore Roethke

You are alone. You are alone naked in a forest, surrounded.
Alone, surrounded by a live ossuary of trees, shed twig, spell
of oval stone. You are separate from hours in a forest of small
yet perpetuating sounds. No one will hear you breathe. You are
alone, bare hands like large up-curling leaves still soft from the falling.
Your expression sheds itself into the ground next to rounding stone,
the numberless past tense of soil breathing. You are alone. From
end branches, light mows down on you in a forest, oncoming wind,
almost words between its trees’ teeth. Spell freefall memory far forward
from your mind to make nothing happen like those nothing spaces between
the rooms you left behind, left alone to be alone, unaccounted for. No one
can hurt you now. Your face, hands in the synonyms of leaves, hair caught
combing pinecone, like a pulled potato a child of you knew how to be
here alone, falling out of your house made from cut-down trees.


Elena Karina Byrne’s fourth book, Phantom Limbs, is forthcoming from Omnidawn in 2021. She is a freelance editor; poetry consultant and moderator for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books; and literary programs director for the Ruskin Art Club. 

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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