Liza's Tree

Liza's Tree

Inspiration for writing is often memory. As a girl I attended Camp James Weldon Johnson in Raccoon State Park in Pennsylvania. One of my fondest memories is the long nightly walk to Liza’s Tree. Once there, we sat around a blazing campfire while one of the best storytellers in the world told us about Liza, how she had been misunderstood, chained to the tree and killed. If we listened closely, we could hear her voice in the wind, sighing, “I am Liza.”

The following poem, liza’s tree, was inspired by that long ago, summer camp memory, and the amazing storyteller who imprinted Liza’s story into my imagination.


liza’s tree

seize time

snatch it back
stride it forward

i am liza
is was gone
of the left-for-dead, dangling

centuries implied
mysterious gods &
lonely girls peering into darkness is the night

the people supped
my cackling by cauldrons
spit, skin
juices, sighs
gut intuit

i loved them all good good
not equally, but still…good
they renounced my path
my springtime
my early tender buds
natural sooths of springboards
leaping gazelles on
enchanted savannahs


a circus frenzy
broodmares & gentlemen
captured me by
woodlands as i
foraged leaves &
dragged me
inverted me
a maple tree
fluttered down slowly skirt

vulva revelation

in moonlight’s silence
i cursed them
wriggled free
one finger
then two

i scraped bark
it cut my tongue, oh!
trembling teeth
of witches

tree memory

body stiffened penance

i am liza
of the left-for-dead

observe as
i am joined by others

squirrels rush
bottom hollows
& torso trunk in
hairs of gnarled roots

my legs. . . splayed limb thrillers
where children play &
blue birds sing &
autumn comes &
always spring &
purple blooms &
cackle cauldrons
spit, sigh, intuit


shall there be revenge?

seize time
snatch it back
stride it forward



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