My stepfather convinced me
he’d written messages, as a boy,
on birch bark. No matter
that he grew up on asphalt
streets in Brooklyn. I gave him
a childhood in forests.
I gave him moccasins and stealth,
knowledge of plants and trees.
I was sure he could put up a teepee,
find clear running water, everything
we’d need to survive
the steely silences he brought home.
Wendy Mnookin‘s books are The Moon Makes Its Own Plea, What He Took, To Get Here, and Guenever Speaks. She is the recipient of a Sheila Motton Book Award and an NEA Fellowship, and she teaches poetry at Emerson College and at Grub Street, a non-profit writing program in Boston. You can find out more about her work at wendymnookin.com.