Even the Trees Went Under

by Anne Leigh Parrish

The first corner to lift was the dining room
Where candles were lit, wine sipped,
Plans made, tears shed, voices raised,
More than one plate thrown down
For the pleasure of watching it break

Could rain do that, they asked?
Flood a basement, sure
Sneak in under a loose roof shingle
Drip from the ceiling into the pot
One of them finally got up to put in place
Saying for God’s sake, enough is enough!

Next came the back stairs
Floating away without a sound,
And so became called the “silent separation”
A cause for wonder, certainly awe, until
The inconvenience of having to climb
In and out of windows darkened the mood

The front door might have been accessible
If it weren’t facing a muddy lake they hadn’t seen rise—
For all the time they’d been wondering if
They could go on, if there were anything left to hold onto
The rain kept falling, the earth kept melting,
Even the trees went under, and took the birds down too

They stood before the attic window and watched
The water flow toward the ladder they’d just climbed
And marveled at how ignorant they’d been, back in the beginning
When the sky was clear and the ground always dry

Time to go, she said and raised the window
He asked if she were just going to leave him there to drown

She looked him over, and thought he’d never been what
She’d bargained for, then of the life she’d have as a
Single mermaid, and said no, she wasn’t
And that maybe now was a good time to
Teach him how to swim


Anne Leigh Parrish’s debut poetry collection, the moon won’t be dared, is forthcoming next October from Unsolicited Press. Also from Unsolicited Press is what nell dreams, a novella & stories, in November 2020; and a winter night, a novel, coming in March 2021. Her short fiction has recently appeared in New Pop Lit, The Slag Review, and O:JA&L. Recent poems have appeared in Mocking Heart Review, Crow Literary Review, S/tick, Wilde Boy, Feminine Collective, 34thParallel Magazine, and Q/A Poetry. She lives among the evergreen trees in the South Sound region of Washington State.