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The trees, the redwoods, waving, skimmed her thought of the trees

the way the wind grazed the canopy of the forest.

Some trunks creaked, while her mind fell quiet,

heightening to the falling capacity of trees

that stand at such a height. Her mind-tree leaned till it fell,

and her mind-ear leaned till it heard

the sound a tree of that height would make when it tipped,

when it brushed the other trees’ leaves and then branches and then

whatever ground would catch it when it toppled,

cutting a hole in the mind-forest’s top.

Light flooded the space. She was happy.

Death had hollowed her out, making spaces within her

as the redwoods have, which animals enter and fill with themselves.

Some were clawed, and by digging, they made the hollows wider.

Some had wings that flapped and tickled her as they flew

out of the hollows and up until they’d gotten a bird’s-eye view

of the uppermost layer of that forest. They were higher

than the woman was and higher than the tree had been.

And free enough to flee her. And free enough

within to stay within.

Carolina Hotchandani‘s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AGNIThe Cincinnati ReviewPrairie Schooner, and others. Her manuscript-in-progress, Songs of the Isolationist, explores various registers of isolationism—from a pregnant woman’s fear of the baby’s invasion of her body to a naturalized citizen’s fear of living in America, where her outsider status seems not to be remediated through citizenship. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska where she teaches English and creative writing.

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