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Gathering the Naiads AMANDA SCHEIFELE

All around, the breath of trees. They salute. Breathing in. They dance. Breathing out. Is that a face? Is that a finger? Is that a frown I see? We need them. I think you’ll enjoy this. So many in a forest. It’s all the same. Is that an eyelash? They all look alike. Trunks heap upon roots heap upon leaves heap upon twigs. Unlikely. The most common becomes uncommon. Less chosen becomes most. Is that a face I see? Just a face in a crowd. Tonnes — literally — tonnes of maples on this earth. Usually unlikely and somehow or other small. So much Canada. But what about you? Is that a pulse I see? Incredibly normal. But look! A leaf? Nope. No. No no no! Look, really look and you’ll find a burning. It’s pulsing bright. I choose you. Up up up north we go. Harder to breathe. Shorter. Is that a lock? Is that an ear I see? Not really, but still. Look at them all! Snow on snow on branch on snow on snow. Not so much snow around here. Around its roots. Shelter here. Prickly though. Rude. Evergreens. Great trees yet to be considered good. Is that a face I see? Most debatable of the choices. A bear amongst the bark. Mighty but don’t get too close. They bite. Such handsome features though. Such defiance. Such strength. Such arrogance against windy Greenland. Are they tame? Is that a wink I see? Look, really look and you’ll find a heart beating brawny and true. You sure? Yes. I choose you. Down down down we go. Didn’t even notice did you? Is that a flower? Is that grass? Is that a bud I see? After winter. Right on time. Is that a face? Is that a nose? Is that a foot? A light pink rain falls. Slowly. Mirroring autumn. A natural perfume that defies France. Hyperventilating. Cross your legs a minute. Look. An apple tree? No no no! Really look. Is that a brow I see? You want this one? Let me perceive. Are those drifting petals I see? Are those leaves I see? Is that a bunch of apples? No. Wait. Are those skulls? Tragic. Look. Look inside and you’ll find someone a lot like us. Someone else who tries to hide what others might not want to find. To choose, or not to choose? No question. I choose you. Right right right we go now. Is that muscle I see? Is that a tooth? Is that a limb? Is that a fist? Is that a glare? Friends. Friends. Careful. Eyes fiery. Blood spilt. (Oops.) See how he walks? See the lives on his shoulders? He’s taken so many. Colossal. Let him wander. I dare you to stop him. Look at how he treats the babes. Like they’re made of dandelion fluff. Is that a smile I see? Handsome bloke isn’t he? Oaks am I right? Crazy? Maybe. See him in action. Look at him. Bravado. Dare you to say otherwise. Peak inside and you’ll find a volcano. Dormant. Awakened. Look out. I choose you. Left left left over we go. To marshes to giggling to ponds to chuckling to Mississippi to laughing. Is that a toe? Is that an arm? Is that hips I see? Don’t mess with her. Oh I know, I know. No, really, I got slapped the first time. Willows are like that. She’s supercilious. She’s infuriating. She’s always in your grace. She’s adorable. Wait. What?! No. No way. Never. Nu-uh. You’ll savour her eventually. Bells will chime. Just wait. Too late. Look inside and you’ll find splendour mixed with combustion. Wait. Just wait! I choose — wait! — you. Hard to pick so few. So diverse. Had to choose. You and you and you. Could even choose you. Me? Pf. Look inside and you’ll find an ember. Constant. Lustrous. Guidance. Just wait, who knows when they’ll come to choose.

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