Finger Painting




Don’t start with the trees, but the forest.

You told me this. How simple it is

to colour in the thicket

or to smear the sky with my palms:

the stars will follow. How it

only takes a finger to make

a tree-trunk or the whorled shell

of a snail, a finger to show me

that my body is a landscape

you will paint yourself into

again and again – your rage   

the rupture of flames across

my branches, your hands a storm surge

spilling across my shores.

All these years later, I’m still spitting

out your paintwater. Sometimes,

I trace a line from my belly

to my sex to try to find

your vanishing point or mine.

Your footprints leading down past

my stippled lake – fingerprint-flecked

and shining. Over my sun-dappled

gully, stretching on until

I stop, for fear of losing

my way back or forgetting the trees.

The way they grow around things:

benches, bicycles, pavements.

The way they’ve learned to move

in the wind.