A Sycamore’s Scream

By Rachel McCarren

Wolf Creek, Slippery Rock, PA, 2017

The sun’s white metallic sheen and smell
tells me I’ve awoken mid-winter. It’s morning.
The cool grass glides between my fingers—
gives and breathes like the fur of a great beast.

I open my eyes, spread my palms wide, feel the soft ground,
marred by the occasional coarse stone or brittle bone.
I’m buried ankle-deep in fall’s skirting of crumbling leaves.
Downhill from me, there are signs of human crisis:

empty beer cans, broken glass bottles, crumpled plastic bags.
I watch the ice-choked creek roil round the ringed mouths
of bald tires. I see the empty nests of eagles tangled
in the thread-bare branches of birches, trunks hollowed by plight.

The skin on my shins is rippled and scarred at eye level,
ruined by so many lovers’ knife-tips. I reach and twist, 
crack my back and knuckles, stretch my limbs.
I look down at the pit, glower at the strewn garbage,

at the piles of worm-eaten corpses, of beetle bowered towers, 
the bodies of my friends long fallen and devoured. I beckon 
the rumbling ground to awaken with my howl. 
I pause for the sound of a thousand wings ascending,
but the sky is deadly silent, and I am lonely, waiting.


Rachel McCarren‘s poetry has appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, Lupercalia Press’s debut anthology Vulcanalia, Anti-Heroin Chic Mag, The Unexposed Mag, and more. During her MFA at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA, Rachel studied summers at Trinity College Dublin in IE. Rachel is currently based in Pittsburgh, PA, but she plans to permanently relocate to Ireland with her Irish partner within the next year.

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