Mother Rips my Roots by Jasmine King

With Lines from “The Apple Trees at Olema” by Robert Hass

Shakes me by the raw, white, backlit flaring

of her lightning streaked hand. Fingers whip,

burn my veiny branches with white fire.

Her lashes reach from hollow sky,

bind my stick-like arms,

pulls until I’m left with bare trunk,

sap oozes from cylinder scars—


The only thing that strengthens

my black roots are the sunken scars,

bruised and bare flesh.


Her hand shreds my curled

leaves. I am stuck

in the center

of her whirlwind,

left over branches swarm

cover me, block her

sharp claws of lightning

from scratching bark from my face.


I stand alone, sticky with sap

as the sun’s harsh light burns

her white body until it becomes

crisp as my own. Her hand too

sensitive to touch another body,

her skin melts, squeezes her heart

into liquid that spills onto my now ripened cherries.


My roots stay loose in dirt,

branches curve, grow sideways.

Dirt clumps in parts of me,

inside crevices of teared off bark,

in hardened sap splotches,

but root tips remain clasped tightly,

holds me steady.


Jasmine King is a student studying creative writing. Her work has been awarded a Gold Key by
Scholastic Art and Writing, along with an honorable mention. She has been published in the June
2015 and April 2017 print issues of TeenInk. Residing in Jacksonville, she aspires to continue
her education in writing.

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