Father wound

My sister’s father wound is the flush cut
on the bark where she lost her foothold
and fell,
the trunk burning red between her thighs
all the way down the tree to the ground.

It happened in the fatherland
where the sky is a rock of shale grey
covered with acorn barnacles
that pucker like branch collars
to guide my sister’s feet beyond the clouds.

It happens again now overseas
as an apple falls not from a tree
and my sister’s father cranes his neck to
look for his daughter
climbing the invisible sun beyond the rock.

But I am no longer beside myself
beside him
as I bend to pick up the fallen apple
that he does not see and watch it
become the sun in my palm.

I take a bite from its light
to feed my sister
who fell from a tree in the old country,
dying to be the sister
living abroad in me.



Karen Luke won the Judge’s Choice award for her poem, Dog’s Bone, at the inaugural Chesham Literary Festival in 2023. Her poems have been published in The Lake (October 2023) and are forthcoming in London Grip (March 2024).