Alison Doernberg


By early June, they’ve cloaked the fence in green,

extending toward the house. We plunge our arms

into the dense entanglement of vines

and pluck them, one by one, the slender bells

of palest gold and white beneath the gray

swell of the sky, thick with unfallen rain.

We twist the ends, a gentle pull – my sister first,

then I – slide out the wispy stem and catch

the single fragrant drop. It melts against

my tongue, a softened burst of summer sun.

Inside, my father scrubs the plates and sighs,

They’ll swallow up the house. He tries each year

to cut them back: a pleading push against

a yawning leafy tide, the fist-like roots

uncurling underground and spreading wide.

They climb the brick, grab at the mortar cracks

and angle toward the sky. I wonder why

we don’t just drown; our house, a vessel lost

in stormy seas. At night, I lie in bed,

a breath away from sleep, and feel the silence

creep up every wall, the empty spaces

shifting into voids to fill. I settle

into strange relief. We’re giving up the fight –

instead we live within and find it sweet.




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