Early I descend the stairs like a child’s newly-acquired marionette 
No part in predictable relation to the others 
In the kitchen on the top shelf is a cardboard bankers box 
Full of boiling water 
The lilac’s leaves all withered but for months it has had a hundred green little buds, firm little pregnancies at the tip of each branch 
I am watching them daily to gauge their intentions 
I think you should find it surprising that given the time we spend on our feet, it’s so difficult to learn to stand on our hands

How the ground presses up

The cement is compromised, full of hope and sand
I tell the children it’s a bunker         due to the bunk beds

They want to show the beds to visitors but instead
we teach them moral rectitude, screaming,

subsisting on sugar and edible species of fungus
Their teeth sink into cake like 

gravity sinks into the snow laying thick on the mountainside
The mutinous avalanche turns the trees upside down

but the trees are prepared
Their roots and branches mirrored       in all relevant respects

Jessica Fjeld is the author of Redwork (2018) and the chapbooks The Tide (2010) and On animate life (2006), for which she received the Poetry Society of America’s Chapbook Fellowship. Also an attorney and academic, Fjeld is the Assistant Director of the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, where she focuses on supporting the work of creatives, archivists, and human rights defenders as that work intersects with emerging technology. She lives with her family in Somerville, MA.

From “free” to “friend”…

Established in 1911 as the Bulletin of Popular Information, Arnoldia has long been a definitive forum for conversations about temperate woody plants and their landscapes. In 2022, we rolled out a new vision for the magazine as a vigorous forum for tales of plant exploration, behind-the-scenes glimpses of botanical research, and deep dives into the history of gardens, landscapes, and science. The new Arnoldia includes poetry, visual art, and literary essays, following the human imagination wherever it entangles with trees.

It takes resources to gather and nurture these new voices, and we depend on the support of our member-subscribers to make it possible. But membership means more: by becoming a member of the Arnold Arboretum, you help to keep our collection vibrant and our research and educational mission active. Through the pages of Arnoldia, you can take part in the life of this free-to-all landscape whether you live next door or an ocean away.

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