Avery M. Guess is a recipient of a 2015 NEA Fellowship for Poetry. She's a PhD student at University of South Dakota and assistant editor for poetry at South Dakota Review. Recent poems appear in Rogue Agent, Mid-American Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Thrush Poetry Journal. Her chapbook, The Patient Admits, is forthcoming from dancing girl press in summer 2017.
How to Be a Survivor
Understand it's not about coming out
unscathed. Look to the gingko.
A living fossil, it's been through more
than we can dream of with our rootless
feet. Our leafless limbs. Six ginkgo trees
survived the bombs sent to fell Hiroshima,
sheltered under the parasol of the mushroom
cloud that bloomed above the city. They dug
in. Said no. Insisted on witnessing,
on bearing testimony. Accepted their scars
as proof they'd been through something.
Flung open leaves like fans to keep cool
in summer. Dyed their hair bright yellow
each fall to infuse themselves with the warmth
of a dying sun. Didn't linger over each precious
leaf fall. Didn't portion their pain out piece
by piece. Learned to let go all at once.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
All contents © the author.