Everything turned into a tree the moment she came up to it

~ After Lewis Carroll

She flicks aside wisps of hair from a forehead damp with thought and salt, determined to scale the next tree to spring up like a Jack-in-the-Box in her path. Seconds later, a vertical challenge to contemplate. Alice cranes her long neck back at the task ahead, chin over nose, wobbly on her heels. Her body corrects, calves clenching with intention. They muscle and stretch over gnarly roots, scrape against branches as she legs her way up the trunk. Knots used as rungs grimace and moan. Leaves quiver and turn, perturbed. Owls tucked into boles and holes blink at the disruption. Her steps lighten the higher she climbs, past whorls and burls and squirrels twitching with irritation. She catches her breath at canopy’s top, where the air is thin, unties her apron strings, flings the pinny to the air. It spirals through clouds, floats helplessly past flustered swallows, touches down on a surprise of snapdragons. Vistas blur as the treetop spreads its long shadow over the patchwork meadow far below. Knights and rooks scurry to escape the darkness, dormice scamper towards it. Alice stretches to take it all in. Her fingertips touch sky, tease down rain — roots, soil, rings sip and gulp as though tipsy, quenched again.

Mikki Aronoff

Mikki Aronoff’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Ekphrastic Review, Virga, Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, London Reader, SurVision, Rogue Agent Journal, Popshot Quarterly, Global Poemic, The Fortnightly Review, Gentian Journal, and elsewhere. A New Mexico poet and Pushcart nominee, she is also involved in animal advocacy.