Caitlin Scarano

Did You Hear the One About the Man Who Killed the World’s Tallest Tree?

This morning I walk with my dog along the river. It has just rained. Things are moving fast. Plastic bottles, sticks, something purple. A man who looks like my father lies among the reeds and trash. He glances at me from his oily sleeping bag, both of us wondering if we need to fear the other. I have my father’s teeth. His penchant for whiskey. Instinct for story over truth. What if we are the roots of someone to come and he was the roots of me? What if I never want children? Will you be able to reconcile how I’d rupture the careful future you pictured? You keep strays until you become a stray yourself, I learned this by watching my father. I was sleeping in. I was outside the lines. You say, nightrot. I say, fistful of lust. I find an article: “50 Questions to Fall Back in Love with Your Person.” Even though we recently met, I read some aloud to you. #20: What unanswerable question bothers you the most? Do humans matter? you say. What does it mean if evil does not exist? I say. The man who killed the tree did it on accident. Decades later, he ran from a journalist who asked him about it. Life is like a cartoon or, better yet, a children’s book. My father read my sisters and me The Giving Tree over and over. Who is the boy in this metaphor? Who is the tree? Am I the stump? You say you like the sound of my voice. I want to say, yes, but you’re missing what I’m actually saying. #39: What do you think the afterlife consists of? My father is dead. Your father is alive and quiet. When I bite off the skin around my fingernails, you say your mother does the same thing when she’s nervous. Eventually, they found an older tree. You say, The afterlife might just be what we manifest.


Caitlin Scarano is a poet based in northwest Washington, and a PhD candidate in English (creative writing) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her work was included in Best New Poets 2016 and The Best Small Fictions 2016. Her debut collection of poems, Do Not Bring Him Water, was released in Fall 2017 by Write Bloody Publishing.

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