Pareidolia – Megan Merchant

There was an etching of a grumpy face in your bark—
or was I projecting—from the back porch, two stories tall.

You should know that when they cut you, the air smelled
like tilled earth and copper—the closest I know to blood.

I have an affinity for grumpy people, for authenticity.
My son cried when he saw the chainsaw bite into your

rings, and the men in hard hats called him a baby, said
You’re too old be weeping like a girl. I read today

that scientists discovered they can repair heart tissue
with the stem cells in menstrual blood and that trees

droop their branches at dusk, pulling water from the roots.
Forgive me, you were sick and I could not bleed you well,

the carpenter ants not unlike the tumor inside my mother’s
brain. I had to make the call. The men with ropes and saws

said you could have taken down the whole house—if lightning,
if wind, if snow. I wonder if that toppling would make it okay

for my son to cry—if his toys broke. The ones carved out of wood.
When they hauled away—shavings freckled the air. A mourning

dove, confused, refused to land. What insurance we have does
not cover this kind of uprooting. I pile what’s left for several

winters down the road—splinters burying into the heart
line of my hands.

Megan MerchantMegan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ with her husband and two children. She holds an M.F.A. degree in International Creative Writing from UNLV and is the author of three full-length poetry collections with Glass Lyre Press: Gravel Ghosts (2016), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Award Winner, 2017), Grief Flowers (2018), four chapbooks, and a children’s book, These Words I Shaped for You (Philomel Books). She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, the 2018 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, and most recently, second place in the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She is an Editor at Pirene’s Fountain and The Comstock Review. You can find her work at