White Birches

—Jennifer Martelli

.....when the Erinyes were about to put Orestes out of his mind, they
appeared to him black, but once he had bitten off his finger they appeared
to be white....

It is a pleasure to walk through the gem-tone theme
of my neighborhood streets: Emerald, Sapphire, and my own,
Ruby. One home has a small forest
of white birch trees, straight with bark fragile as
rolling papers, and there is peace in that spot
every season, no matter what: the color never changes and
the house is quiet like someone inside was dancing and stopped.
There’s a small strip of stores at the top of the street--a package store,
a deli, a bank. The end of my tiny trek
could be in any one of those shops--the end of yours, too,
if you’ve already fallen, if the decision has been made,
you could fill a tote bag with whiskey or candy or rope
for a noose, money, you could gamble. The walk back home
past the white birch forest is best: my tote’s still full and
even though I see my shoes move, they don’t make a sound.

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