Self-Portrait as a Hackberry Tree

KB Brookins


I latch onto unusual surfaces.
You call them buildings, I call them scorpios
with handlebar mustaches. They protrude through & under
my meaty, barked-up branches. They try & cut me shorter
with instruments un-strong enough for roots. I once broke through
what called itself pavement, too. & it felt good, telling him I didn’t notice
the obstacle & stumbled my way through it to get to a land with healthier
terrain. I am a living invasion of the ecosystem’s status quo. I thrive
with little more than sunlight & air protruding through
my naturally watered roots. How good it is to be bumpy
but keen on survival. It’s nice to meet you
on both sides
of a fence.


KB is a Black queer nonbinary miracle. They are the author of the chapbook HOW TO IDENTIFY YOURSELF WITH A WOUND (Kallisto Gaia Press, 2022), winner of the 2021 Saguaro Poetry Prize. They are a 2021 PEN America Emerging Voices fellow. Follow them online at @earthtokb.

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