Forest’s pine needles made a false floor
that broke away below me, earth

loosening around the tree’s roots
and the rotting log’s hollow chambers.

I fell ass-first in the dappled brook
grasping moss-covered rocks,

and scrambled uphill as twigs cut gashes
on my legs, two thin lacerations stinging

with thistles’ kisses. To stop myself
from slipping into a nearby fox den,

I fingered half a sheep’s skull, purple collagen
hardened to its ridged teeth and skimmed

my hand against a lichen-covered trunk.
It was a smooth rail that pulled me upright.

I held tightly to snapping branches
as maggots writhed, then vanished.

Suspended between certain dirt
and a glossy cobweb caught at head height,

the tree’s outstretched digit caught hold
of my ring and wedded itself to me.

This appeared in the November 2015 issue.

Cassidy McFadzean ( published her first full-length collection, Hacker Packer, in April.

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