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.