Two stories about skin

His overwhelming desire to get out was his eviction notice. He had to leave this place immediately. It wasn’t so much that he needed to not be here anymore. It was that he needed to be there — to know his independence, to look upon his home from a distance and see it whole against the sky.

He stripped some bark from a nearby tree. (As he cut into the tree and peered beneath the bark he felt bad for this tree, for he knew the shame of being seen beneath; but this was immediately eclipsed by an even greater feeling of pride.)

On the bark’s smooth inner wall he created a map. He paused to admire it, and savored calling it good. Then he set off to chart the edges of the world. As he traveled and traced his path on his map, the shape that emerged came to him as good news. Now he knew for certain what he had suspected. With his completed map in hand he left his home behind.

*

In the end,
the trees will grow like snakes,
splitting and sloughing bark,
bending in coils of green heartwood;
and the snakes will grow like trees,
depositing skin under skin,
in casings of turgid leather,
and they will lie about on the ground
like broken branches.

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