White Birch

I’d forgotten how the curled bark blushes pink sometimes,
out of dampness I suppose, or a new angle of light.

A kind of blossoming, like spring come early to these woods.
It is the salmon-petalled poppy I dug from my husband’s

grandmother’s garden after her death. Dirt rained
through my hands, exposing the severed root. I thought 

I’d killed it. But all these years it keeps coming back:
mouthful of sunrise, crinkled crepe tongues. The flush

of my daughter’s cheeks as she sits in the bath weeping,
steam rising off the pale buds of her breasts,

her hands cupped like leaves beneath her nose to catch
the bleeding. Rosettes blooming in the milky water

all around her. It is the sudden tree of her
standing beside me as I guide her from the tub,

the white towel I dry her legs with and drape over her back
to brush her hair. She lets me brush her hair.

It is the stained tissue I peel from her wet face
because she lets me. Pressing a fresh one there, I think

of the blood yet to come, her other flowering, wondering
if she’ll need me then. It is the color of her needing me.