Emelie Pennington-Davis

Emelie Pennington-Davis is a sophomore English/Psychology double major at PLU and is very excited to be published in Saxifrage. Their favorite activities include collecting interesting plants, challenging the gender binary, and staying up until 2AM eating mac n’ cheese like a proper gremlin writer.

Growing Up Tired in the Trees

One soft-tongued summer day when I was seven,
I awoke to the hollowing knowledge that the gap-toothed, 
grim-eyed face behind the mirror was my own.  
Undone by unease, I fled to you, backyard bearer of swings,  
little more than sapling but still unshakable,
silently capable, sheltering my changeling’s body beneath your leaves.

Safe from my own reflection at last, 
I threw my stubby, pigeon-fat arms around you
and felt like a wanderer come home, 
the clutch of safety clicking shut in my chest.
The smell of your roots--I still remember-- 
hot, fine dust and deep-sap cool, so fresh it burned.  

The haven you offered grafted a leaf-print protection into my skin. 
How could I understand such selflessness when I didn’t understand myself?
Overwhelmed, seeking unnamable answers, I peeled back the bark 
in front of my face with a scratch-rust shovel 
until the sap ran like sweetened rain across my hands.

In those distended droplets, I saw again my reflection,
she who I fled from, fractured into antitheses and exhaustion.     
And as I cried at the bright green pain I’d caused you
unknowing but ingloriously curious, 
I read the truth you tried to shelter me from writ
unyielding on the inside of your skin: 
I will always be destructive when I love, 
a defective defense wired down irretrievably deep.

The fault, both sacred and sacrilegious, rests in the grey-vein maze 
that runs its split root ends down my spine. 
Or so I try to tell myself.
I walk this world, unsleeping, shovel clutched in hands that ache for summer.
Just because I won’t let myself rest
encircled by your still-scarred, sunlight-bound arms,  
doesn’t mean I wasn’t meant to.

Monody For a Matriarch

One soft-tongued summer day when I was seven,
I awoke to the hollowing knowledge that the gap-toothed, 
grim-eyed face behind the mirror was my own.  
Undone by unease, I fled to you, backyard bearer of swings,  
little more than sapling but still unshakable,
silently capable, sheltering my changeling’s body beneath your leaves.

Safe from my own reflection at last, 
I threw my stubby, pigeon-fat arms around you
and felt like a wanderer come home, 
the clutch of safety clicking shut in my chest.
The smell of your roots--I still remember-- 
hot, fine dust and deep-sap cool, so fresh it burned.  

The haven you offered grafted a leaf-print protection into my skin. 
How could I understand such selflessness when I didn’t understand myself?
Overwhelmed, seeking unnamable answers, I peeled back the bark 
in front of my face with a scratch-rust shovel 
until the sap ran like sweetened rain across my hands.

In those distended droplets, I saw again my reflection,
she who I fled from, fractured into antitheses and exhaustion.     
And as I cried at the bright green pain I’d caused you
unknowing but ingloriously curious, 
I read the truth you tried to shelter me from writ
unyielding on the inside of your skin: 
I will always be destructive when I love, 
a defective defense wired down irretrievably deep.

The fault, both sacred and sacrilegious, rests in the grey-vein maze 
that runs its split root ends down my spine. 
Or so I try to tell myself.
I walk this world, unsleeping, shovel clutched in hands that ache for summer.
Just because I won’t let myself rest
encircled by your still-scarred, sunlight-bound arms,  
doesn’t mean I wasn’t meant to.