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Frigg | Spring/Summer 2023 | The Sugar Maples | Shannon K. Winston
The Sugar Maples
I name the sugar maples that I pass on the train.
Snowflakes speckle the window.
Like the finest salt is how the internet describes
the calcifications in my right breast.
But I think of sand when my nephew tells me
about the calcifications around his heart.
I will build you a sandcastle there, I promise him.
In freezing temperatures, sugar maples suck sap
back into their veins; their syrup crystalizes
on the outside of their bodies, which harden with age.
My grandmother has plaque in her brain.
A white residue seals off her memory.
She’s forgotten my name. So, when she tells me
the story of an unnamed woman in an unnamed
city who hoists two hundred pounds on her shoulders
to regain the bone mass she lost
when she stopped eating, my grandmother might be
describing a close friend or a stranger.
But what does it matter?
I pretend her name is Atlas.
I give the sugar maples names, too:
Catherine, Carna, and Luke.
They extend their bony fingers.
Their rigid bodies are glazed with frost.
Inside my breast, I imagine ice and debris—
the smallest flecks of chilled, white grief.
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