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Sap by Elizabeth Gibson

The leaf swells with light, with water. Tiny tunnels,
threading, opening out. Pure life. I hold it to the sky,
sprawled on my back, at the top of the hill. The sun
is setting, the last notes of birdsong calling the time.
This is beauty – except, there is a murmuring now,
a catch, an eery smell on the air. I run a finger right
along the leaf vein and then press – and it explodes,
and I cry out, although it is only a little drop of sap.
It pools into my palm. I watch it run red, in the last
of the sun dipping downwards. In my mind, I can see
another vein bursting, vitality spilling out. I shudder.
Little pipes carry things we need, carry fuel to burn,
to keep trees and people alive. They say the pipeline
will do all that too, that the oil it will carry is needed,
and I want to believe that it can work, that it can hold.
The sky is purple now, first stars hesitantly glowing.
This is beauty, still – but I keep remembering the sap,
the snap, the explosion of fluid, and I know that soon,
beneath me, rivers of oil will flow in their metal vein
and I pray: please, please let it hold, let this stay.
For all
of our sakes,
Don’t let
it
break.