by Francine Witte

The forest knows all about them. The forest being the other trees, the scampery bunnies, the rock knots sitting by the gurgly streams. The forest knows about the lovertrees smack in the middle that somehow stay rooted but move towards one another at night.

The whole forest knows, but not the people. The people who wander through each day and scatter home before the lowering sun cut spatters of light through it all.

An owl shows up, perches itself nearby. Hoots its owly warning as the lovertrees inch towards one another. They’ll cut you both down, he warns the lovertrees, or put you together in a museum.

The lovertrees need each other too much to listen. They whisper comfort. Say things like we didn’t do anything. Their barks against each other now, their leaves mingled, their branches entwined.

But then, one day, a hiker. Tired and wanting to feel the nightgauze of the forest. He uncurls his bedroll right between the lovertrees before they’ve had a chance to move. What a spot, the hiker says into the air. The lovertrees look at one another. I could come here every night. The hiker continues, maybe even build a tiny house, The hiker smiles and beds himself down.

Above all this, the stars. Around all this, the forest. All of it watching the lovertrees, separate and still, their pain breathing into the sky.