This tree that grows on Ragnarök By Ashely Adams

This tree that grows on Ragnarök

a sestina

I am the snake eating the roots of the world,
haloed in the penumbra of wings
whining with coagulated dust.
You and your sword try to cut me open,
but I am a thing that cannot die,
a body spilling flies and rust-hued ruin.

How could you stop my ruin
rise through your gilded palace, a world
built on chain and nail? Your pulse dies,
the fluttering of steel wings.
Gasp your starved ribs open
and sharpen my scales on its sphagnum dust.

You and your plow lick breadbasket dust
off lips parted, alone in dry ruin.
I make teeth from the dark where the riverbed opens,
tongue of curdled jetstreams ringing the world.
Each sigh parts soil from stone, your wings
fall against time’s husks, as if the memories could die.

Still, you build this dying
replica of my heart on this spoiled dust.
But its fangs and wings
break against my eon bones; ruins
mark our serpentine trails in a world
breathing vengeance and skin broken open.

I work your brittle crust open.
Scratch the mountain until it swells, dies,
drain the fractions of the world
I’ve left; churning your dust,
burying tusk and flint,            a ruin
made in the spread of pyroclastic wings.

Your empire suns burn in my jaws, corona wings
drip the flood, split the bark open.
Set loose the wolf furred in manged-ruin.
You and your kingdom die,
leaving only leviathan dust
under your final stars, flickering from the world

And when you are gone

I will mend broken wings and no one will die.
They will turn open and whisper into the dust
of the snake that brings ruin, eating the roots of the world

By Ashely Adams


Ashely Adams is an MFA candidate in nonfiction at the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in Flyway, Heavy Feather Review, Fourth River, Anthropoid, Permafrost, OCCULUM. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and was selected as Best in Show for the Antioch Writers Workshop Fiction Fellowship contest.

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