Original Text: 
Margaret Christakos, Welling (Sudbury, Ontario: Your Scrivener Press, 2010): 32.
2Bitter breeze filters through birch foliage.
3Each leaf flinches. Cherish me today
5I have too-white bark that peels from my core.
6I am leaving my bitter body, its sturdy V-shapes
7& nodding flourishes. I am curling like a fetus
8Into the non-birch world. Enough I have had
9Of my paper-skinned nature. My thin, ever-springlike ensemble
10Leading you to love me for my fragility. Forget it.
11I turn & chafe. I misbeget the fruit of the other trees.
13My head about to gasp, my crown flickers too green,
14I am waiting, waiting for night. When it comes, all
15My glowing turrets will be unbidden but lit, settled
17Will make friends with you until dawn. Why? Just to make you ache, just
18To canopy your gaze, to gash your advances. Opponent, do not
19Touch the skin before dusk. Don't touch me
20Without the dark, for I am a bitter touch.


1] A tree "distinguished among the other forest trees by its slender white stem," although "its twigs, bound in bundles, have furnished brooms, and the 'birch' for flogging" (OED). Back to Line
4] vetch: bean-like, ill-valued fruit. Back to Line
12] Turdish: shaped like a turd, contemptible. Back to Line
16] The word "birch" descends from the hypothetical Indo-European root, "bhereg-", meaning "white; to shimmer." Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright © Margaret Christakos and used by permission of the poet. Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained from her in writing.