If Audre Lorde Were a Tree I Visited

by Z Bell

liberate me to my own power
and i’ll dig roots into my intersections
like a tree planted by the water
my children’s children will wade
and caress, in awe, my branches
all my foliage to keep them cool

i survived this way
and now my fists are fruit buds
when i love you
i will tell you
and the juice will be sweet
the wind will sneak more quietly
less of a struggle sound
and more imaginative
like co-creation

born in this way of layers
grown into dimensions
on purpose
circles cycle self-determination
i want my body whole
i want my communities loved
liberate me to legacy
and when i love you
i promise you will always know



i am the monster whose mouth waters for connection. i have a tongue that lashes and drips. my saliva is caked thick with anxious communication. i unclench my teeth and the growling vibrato of my roar sounds like a war cry. i mean to sing. i overcorrect the width of my hips and i whip my tail – it’s a crutch. i destroy whole cities with the weight of my heels. i’m heavy. my skin is coarse and scattered with scars. my fists are mostly thumbs and knuckles. i was born in this way – made of crooked earth, phenomenal and dangerous. i take baths in the ocean and there is life swimming around my ankles. i’m always clean. i dry off so close to the sun that i sweat from my pores the way pent water pushes through any crack in any thing that holds. i bleed a lot and i rarely drink blood. i am feared by crowds. they are fans that scream against the divine and the unfamiliar. they disobey my tears so now every flood is salty. they are medicine that fights its way down my throat. i chew when i am lonely and i swallow when it’s not worth the taste. i have a throne and that is where i sleep. i spend my days alone. there are others – far and few. my home is any quiet place where i can stay long enough for the world to forget my name.


i wear my chest like a shield
and there’s a sword in my throat

this memory feels haunted
so i find a wall that fits snugly against my back
and i swing at the ghosts

i should cry inside a circle of salt
but corners feel more safe but
i shouldn’t stay in any one place

i’m my own hero
kind of like my dead mother is god now
she raised her fists at demons, too

i wear her prayer in my heart
it’s an amulet
and it protects