D. Dina Friedman

We have a word for the tough covering
of skin over scars, but what’s the word
for a wound still open, slot canyon

corralling a body’s infection? What’s
the word for a tree, alone and sick
in the woods? Or a planet fighting

invisible gasses? Imagine a festering gut,
earth’s core eaten from the inside out. Cicatrix:
the same word used for the newer, tougher

bark, if the tree recovers, but no word
for the loneliness of disintegration, the tumble
of ice off a glacier into churning water.

When a tree’s trunk hardens
in its hollowing, we name it snag,
word used for obstacles in plans, divine

or otherwise. It stands for years
before its outside softens, sponge-like,
sloughs into pieces on the muddy ground

no longer a dependable marker at the fork.
What’s the word for a gnarled path, for the wrong path,
for a perilous adventure to the great beyond

worthy of blockbuster cinema, the hero
prevailing? What’s the word for a journey
to a thousand-cut death, levees sinking

as the water rises? No heroes, stitches
strong enough to suture spreading sores.
No cicatrix. No quick fix.

D. Dina Friedman’s short story collection, Immigrants, is forthcoming from Creators Press in 2023. She is also the author of one book of poetry, Wolf in the Suitcase (Finishing Line Press) and two young adult novels: Escaping Into the Night (Simon and Schuster) and Playing Dad’s Song (Farrar Straus Giroux). Dina has published widely in literary journals including The Sun, Mass Poetry, Chautauqua Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Cider Press Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Cold Mountain Review, Lilith, Negative Capability and Rhino and received two Pushcart Prize nominations for poetry and fiction.


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