I was walking home from a party alone after 11 pm. It was very dark. An inchworm dropped down on a string right in front of me, and I gasped. Then I heard its tree laughing at me. It was a red oak. The laughing turned into coughing and then the tree began to hum. Two nearby trees joined in. I understood somehow that their roots were intertwined, like holding hands underground. I said, “Hello?” and they did not pause. From that night on, I have been able to hear trees humming. I know they know I can hear them. But they never respond when I try to talk to them. I feel like a crusty-nosed child they simply tolerate. I told my girlfriend and she said I should ask them if they saw any action during the Civil War. I said I don’t want to make assumptions about their ages, it would be rude. She said, “How about try pulling off an acorn and see what happens?”
My sister and I had just come back from clipping wildflowers in the ditch with a scissors. Black-eyed Susans, white daisies, fat purple clover, yellow buttoned tansies. I was pulling off the lower foliage in the sink, thinking about how the early American colonizers had brought these stinky camphor-smelling tansies over to stuff their coffins with. I noticed a small spider with fat yellow legs, walking sideways like a crab across the bottom of the wet white sink. It must have fallen out of the flowers. I held out a stem for it to crawl up onto, and then suddenly it was me who was looking up, out of eight eyes. My sister wandered over and exclaimed about how many bugs were crawling out of the flowers, and called to me (she must have thought I’d stepped out, or maybe gone to the bathroom). She said to leave the flowers outside for a while so all the bugs could evacuate. I could smell my flower, the Black-eyed Susan, putting out a distress call. I knew this scent in my bones (my exoskeleton?). She’d called me to her many times with this urgent blast of chemicals, promising dinner, but also afraid for her life: aphids, again. Today I could feel her, and her, and her dying, in the vase my own hands had shoved her in, my own fingers having ripped her lower leaves from her stem. And then my sister picked up the vase and I heard the screen door slam. A moment later, she washed me down the drain.
Anna Kegler (she/her) is a poet and writer based in Washington, D.C., with roots in Minnesota. She works in nonprofit communications and enjoys Muay Thai, dance, and playing the oboe. She does not enjoy making oboe reeds, but she is persevering.