I stumble pathetically along, my shadow mirroring its movements.

The sun beats down harsh tones onto the back of my neck, there is no salvation. With just a few more slips of the hand, I am invisible.

I drag my feet along the ground, toes scraping at the souls of my shoes. I am torn between turning around and going back home or toppling to the ground never to be seen again. A small hunger chewing at my lower intestine keeps me going.

I finger my fingers; picking at chunks of misplaces skin that I had misplaced in the first place. It's either that or nipping at the dull white gold ring wrapped around my finger that bears no fruit.

I watch cockeyed as a small family of worms wiggle and drowned in a puddle that they had fated themselves to in a desperate search for moister.

I watch the steam heat pull playfully at the puddle taking all it was and leaving only a small hole in the road.

I fall forward and make love to my shadow.

I lift my body past the thick branches of gray.

My toes curl playfully around the hollow tree. I take two fingers into my mouth and bite down until the blood flow is stopped and they go numb. So transfixed, I watch fractions of light appear and disappear through the clay colored leaves.

My fingers taste the way the tree tastes. We are one.

The bark against my back is a soft cotton like substance, inviting me to take my shirt off and press my bare flesh against it.

I pull a pinecone from a near by branch and thank the tree for its strange but illuminating gift, spared from the storms that had only days ago ripped through the town, tearing down phone lines and cradles from treetops.

I hold the tiny bed of life against my chest, running my wet fingers around it. Scorned by the gods but still willing to give me one of her precious children that had somehow weathered the wicked tempest.

I pick out the seeds and place them one by one into my bra, letting them suckle from my warmth and life.

I name each one.

I scratch and lick at the delicious sticky substance that oozes from the cracks. Wind blows droplets off stale rainwater from the leaves onto my head.

I slide gracelessly from the tree, scraping my knees on the earth's surface. The breaking of my flesh does not anger me. A small sacrifice considering.

I curtsy to the kind tree before parting, thanking it once again for the time and love it gave me.

I upturn dirt with my toes and drop newborn seeds into the moist awaiting soil. I bury them one by one, saying to each a tiny prayer.