Indian Bread by Amy-Sarah Marshall

Pine bark in sun and shadow
At the ponderosa by Alan Levine. CC license.

We used to
wedge our
tiny dirty un-
girly
fingernails
into the flesh
of the dowdy
pine trees
plotted in
the concrete
squares that
defined our
territory. Indian
Bread, someone
called it, someone
stupid. But we were
stupid, too. We
hungered so hard
to put something real
in our mouths. Every night
my mother plopped
a can of fruit
cocktail and a pile
of green peas on
the chipped
plates. I couldn’t put
my elbows on
the table while
we chewed.
How incredible
it felt to
peel the grey
bark back and
cull the new
wood, taste
earth
and ash
on koolaid-red
tongues, pretend
to be ancient
and original
and named
after eagles.
We were idiots, then,
on that sidewalk in
Reseda, bikes dropped
in the gutter, baby
teeth chomping
a tree, hoping
we’d be filled
up enough
before dinner.
We didn’t know
how close we were
to the cambium
layer, to skinning
our knees
all the way


Amy-Sarah Marshall, who graduated with an MFA in Poetry from George Mason University, has published poems in the Wisconsin Review, So to Speak, and other journals. She has worked as a web writer and editor, content strategist, and founding president of the Charlottesville Pride Community Network, an LGBTQ+ community nonprofit. A Los Angeles native, Amy-Sarah grew up in a religious theater cult and now lives in Charlottesville, Va. with her wife, two children, one dog, and two cats.

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