Arbor vitae, meaning tree of life:

rooted in the sagittal section

of sheep’s brain –

little cerebellum and

white-matter trunk,

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


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.

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