Cypress Vine and Muck

Catbriar lies there, seemingly innocuous, but suddenly wraps itself around your ankles and digs its thorns in as you lift your foot. I grew up calling it cypress vine, for how it  snakes across the forest floor and climbs up the tree trunks.  Bright green tendrils with tiny thorns become woody ropes as it park-2-smilaxgets older.  I smile when I see it, even when it sneaks up and scratches, because it  means I’m moving from the higher ground down towards the swamp.  And such wondrous things live (and die, and grow again) in the  swamp.

MUCK
Victoria Nations

I grew from sandy mud
the muck of families sticking to me
rich with stories
sweet rotten smells of intrigue and violence
thoughtlessly composted and
seeping into the bodies of each new generation

I played elbow deep in that dirt
rolling it into balls to feel its grit
pushing it deep under my nails
and smearing it onto my face as camouflage
blending in with the mud and
hidden amidst the growth, I grew

I learned to eat the wild plants
to fashion them into vine huts and tree houses
the mud wet under my feet
drawing the poisons out
staining my skin dark red and
tanning it like leather

I grow things in that fertile ground
great leafy visions I cut and press onto pages
rearranging them until they tell stories
colors still bright even with the life dried out of them
sometimes the images bleed when I cut them down
careful not to cut myself on the blade I swing

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