Margaret Dornaus


it is a serious thing // just to be alive/on this fresh morning / in this broken world.

            —Mary Oliver, “Invitation”

Redbud, such a simple name for such 
a complicated tree. You, with blooms so red 
they’re purple, fostering a crooked understory 
at the edge of my forest garden. You, 
doing your best all your brief life to disguise 
the gnarled knot of your trunk, your brittle, 
hard-knock scars with leaves that pass for teardrops 
or hearts—depending on perspective, depending
on the season. You, growing without fanfare before 
bursting in on early spring, an awkward adolescent, once 
reviled; now kowtowed to by the sudden delicate
droop of a dogwood’s subservient white petals. 
O, tree of my youth, have you come to tempt me 
into yesterday’s fairytale of possibilities? 
To sweep me off unsteady feet, take me for a ramble
in your branching arms, hold me close, heartwood
to heartwood, showering me with a hundred fascicles
of passion until I cry out, turn toward your light and beg 
for mercy and the fire to believe in happily-ever-after 
beginnings, if not endings today? This day, your day, 
my day. This day of sweet imperfect beauty
in this broken world.

Margaret Dornaus holds an MFA in the translation of poetry from the University of Arkansas. She recently had the privilege of editing and publishing a pandemic-themed anthology—behind the mask: haiku in the time of Covid-19—through her small literary press, Singing Moon. Her first book of poetry, Prayer for the Dead: Collected Haibun & Tanka Prose, received a 2017 Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America, and she received a 2020 Best of the Net nomination from MacQueen’s Quinterly for her haibun “Late-Night Inventory.” Her poems appear frequently in national and international anthologies and journals, including Contemporary Haibun Online; Dos Gatos Press’ Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona PoemsGlobal Poemic; Journeys 2015: An Anthology of International Haibun; Red Earth Review; The Ekphrastic Review; The Lindenwood Review; and Silver Birch Press’ I AM STILL WAITING series in honor of Lawrence Ferlinghetti.