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By Liza Sparks

             for Zee

When a ponderosa pine
is over one hundred—
it sheds a layer of bark.
You and I both know
the difficulty of shedding.
Let’s call this new bark,
“rusty-orange.” Rusty
implies rain. I’m talking
about that hard rain, you know
what I mean, that rain
you didn’t plan for—
the rain that changes plans?
But it hasn’t all been rain…has it?
There’s been sunshine too. And that’s the orange—
that’s the bright
and citrus. That’s the vitamins.
And when you say, “The ponderosa pine
is my favorite tree,” I understand.
Even after all that hard rain
and after all that time
and after all that shedding,
it smells sweet (like vanilla
and butterscotch) makes you want
to lean into it. Ponderosa pines
can live to be five hundred years old.
Can you imagine? They must know something
about living. Even if all the needles
are burned off, they will survive.
And here we are—Brown girl, Black girl,
with our noses pressed up against a tree!
Taking a deep breath in. It’s so good to be alive.
It’s so damn good to be alive. After the fires.
After all that hard rain.



Listen as Liza Sparks reads "PONDEROSA PINE".

Added: Friday, June 24, 2022  /  Used with permission.
Liza Sparks
Photo by Olli Jay.

Liza Sparks (she/her) has work forthcoming or published with Allium, TIMBER, CALYX, Honey Literary, Powders Press, Alebrijes Review—Voz, Cosmonauts Avenue, and many others. Her work will be included in Nonwhite and Woman Anthology published by Woodhall Press in 2022. Her debut short story collection, All of the Ghosts in the Room, is forthcoming with Trouble Department in fall 2022. Her work is informed by her intersecting identities as a brown-multiracial-queer-woman. Liza is a survivor of domestic partner violence. She lives with bipolar one disorder. Liza lives and works in Louisville, Colorado—land of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute. You can find more of her work or connect with Liza on InstagramTwitter, or her website.

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