Cottonwood – Poetry by Susan Cossette

Dead Cottonwood Tree – Georgia O’Keeffe

Late May, early June—
It happens, every year.

The cottonwood drifts down,

White rain from the sky, in the clear blue day—
Settling along curbsides,
Floating outside my window,
White heaps at the edge of the lawn.

God blows a kiss from his giant dandelions.

Last year, the children ate end-of-year barbeque and danced
Across Chapel Green at Breck School.
Dancing with the cottonwood,
Swirling to the Beatles, played by the teacher band.
We drank cold lemonade, ate oatmeal cookies.

Now, the whole world showers white—
Now we stay home.
Afraid, washing hands and wearing masks.

Summer came quickly,
As it always does in Minneapolis.

It is 90 degrees.
The air is thick and heavy—
A knee pressed on my neck.
I cannot breathe.

You, cottonwood tree—
Your irony is not lost on me.
You, white fluff raining from the sky
Tragic beauty,
You are all I know—
You, white baggage piled high at my curb.

About the Poet

Susan Cossette is the author of Peggy Sue Messed Up (2017).  A two-time recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize, her work has appeared in Rust and MothClockwise CatAnti-Heroin Chic, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.  A recent transplant to Minneapolis, she is active in the local spoken word community.  More of her work may be found here.  

For the first time in nearly five years, Vita Brevis is closed for submission. Read the full story here.

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