Gail White

Woman Into Tree

Greek myth records the known (but hated) fact
that women do not always want men’s love.
Some, in the struggle to avoid the act
and keep their would-be mates at one remove,
have called on heaven to destroy their shape.
Most were not answered. Many were betrayed.
But lucky Daphne spoiled Appollo’s rape:
Her lips grew rough, bark-covered as they prayed;
her raised arms stiffened into boughs to sift
white blossoms on the god’s defeated pride.
How many girls inherited the gift
of Daphne? Under flowering lips they hide
the bitter taste of bark, and no one sees
how many sweet words fall from walking trees.

Gail White has recent work in First Things, Able Muse, Evansville Review, and other journals. Her new chapbook, Sonnets in a Hostile World, is now available at Amazon. She lives on Bayou Teche in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. "Woman Into Tree" first appeared in Soundzine.