Dermatology for Trees

by Stephanie Chang

I recommend a dab of argan oil, bird-screech,
honey water to soothe the complexion.

Apply twice daily, no less. No song as tremulous
as self-coronation. As body anointing every drip

& seed. When you exfoliate, your roots
may take flight, sing more sap than cratered underbelly.

What I mean is this: the moss shall slick over
with dew, rainwater made primordial. A blade

of bark could photosynthesize under seven suns,
perhaps bask the forest in pools of linen.

Never mind the details. Gold flecks of youth.
Caterpillar bites that disfigure. We’ve outgrown

such products by now. We understand your clean,
your natural, your vegan & cruelty-free.

All archaic methods are akin to Victorian alchemy.
But, catch: there’s a mirror in the marsh, bright

& sharp-angled enough to cut. Every reflection
experimental. Slicing of the teething skin.

Remember to tone: smear chlorophyll stain
inside lightless cranny, valley with trembling voice.

Could you reach far enough, bend tall
to touch the evergreens? The firs are always

unimpressed with cycles, faces unchanging.
It’s such difficult charm. Moisturize well, lather

on the aches of the sequoia. Knock on wood.
Scrub away the serum of apple, the foreign

& familiar conformity. Who are you trying
to be? Which metaphor? Let’s deem it ritual:

thick, soft-skinned creature who unearths
pavement & thicket all to breathe

or blossom through fruit-bearing pores.