Laura Madeline Wiseman

Old Cottonwood on the Forest Path

I wore my artist’s smock and camera bag.
I parked the Vibe and started walking towards you.
You were the accidental roundabout.
You were posing, his helper, bare branches, empty sky.
I gave you my silhouette, my head thrown back.
You were breaking apart and hollow.
I pulled my hands from my pockets.
I traced your blackened, furrowed heart.
I said you were here when she was here.
You said she got pregnant.
You said she married a man.
You might as well have said she overdosed.
I said asphalt and tar would kill you.
I said this culture kills and kills.
You said I’ve been standing nearly a century.
I said let me feel your broken limbs.
You scratched at my neck where her lips had been.
You pressed my fingers into your jagged edge.

Laura Madeline Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English and creative writing. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012) and Unclose the Door (Gold Quoin Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her writings have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Arts & Letters, Poet Lore, and Feminist Studies. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner, and grants from the Center for the Great Plains Studies and the Wurlitzer Foundation.