Arbor vitae, meaning tree of life:
rooted in the sagittal section
of sheep’s brain –
little cerebellum and
white branches tucked within it.
The branches bare, as in winter.
Another, in the Kaballah – perfect
orbs suspended, tied
to the ceiling, to each other.
Tattooed in the characters of a language
whose characters were indecipherable.
Its intricacy mesmerized: no roots,
no reaching branches. The strings
between spheres held like taut sinews
with no need for beginning or end.
Yours a galaxy, stretch of strange planets
holding each other aloft.
Mine a single, irreversible cut.
Courtney Hartnett is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2013 with a BA in Interdisciplinary Writing, and her poems and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in Appalachian Journal, storySouth, Blood Lotus, and Dew on the Kudzu. Courtney was a finalist for the Crab Orchard Review’s 2014 Allison Joseph Poetry Award.