An arts magazine at the University of Pennsylvania
Letter to a Birch Kid
Art by Connie Pan
Writing by Jack Starobin
You can’t just be radical.
What’s a tree without a trunk.
You can’t just live underground
In this visionary sweat,
The soiled sea you standing on,
Curling around your ideals
Without a sunlit trace
Of what you map out in the dark
Under this scorched, shadeless place.
You fell in love too many times
With purple things that taste like ginger
To die without blooming.
You’ve seen too many rings
To call yourself budding anymore.
Anymore is all we’ve got.
I read something that whispered like the water.
Sloshed, slid down these empty highways,
Lifted children from these pavement arms
To wash the crust
From this concentric, whirling march.
“Who has you within him is mad.”
I read that line and grit my teeth,
Tearing something to shreds.
I saw you stand the torrent.
Swaying like a flooded birch,
The river fears you, kid.
Earth’s the right place for you.
It sends me streaming down to murky basins,
Peels the final inches of my fingertips from ledges,
Taunting my eroded fingernails
With the gurgle of my futile snarls
Until I find the madness
Grip the earth.
Launch over this desert
You are more than the root.