My sister and I spent February
in the Colorado Rockies.
She skied mornings
before we looped scenic byways:
mountain passes, overlooks, dizzying curves
around chiseled cliffs to riveting valley vistas,
groves of close-packed aspens—stark-white
straight trunks, no branches until high up.
They share a singular root system.

The patterns of dark bark that scar
their trunks intrigued me most. One echoed
a body stretched onto a ragged cross,
others a streetlamp, tatted characters
of Mandarin script, a swollen knee
wound, a series of pokeholes
like a page of Braille.

A friend said the bark can’t keep up
with the tree’s growth,
so it cracks apart.
O, to be willing
to split ourselves open.