Tail Wind – by Freesia McKee

I hoped at least part of my thirties could be like this, walking in the woods by myself on a Sunday morning and feeling strong and tall and deliciously alone. I’ll tell you that lately, I’ve been feeling different, though I wouldn’t usually admit how often I still feel powerless, by which I mean useless, though I know that even an oak twig, a tire-smashed acorn, an immature catkin torn by the curious or restless or hungry serve a purpose. I know that trespassing relies on borders, an invention. I know the cemetery I crossed to get here is also full of life, someone’s home, the eyes of the onyx squirrel so small and glassy, the coneflower’s pink petals drooping like my early autumn coat. I don’t know any of the people buried there, but the older I get, the more I’m drawn to reading the dates on graves, with my history of asthma and rush hour close-calls and the echoing heat of gunshots lingering above the painful trees of memory, burning a signature into our sky. I do think our dead visit us, like the sandhill cranes flying over the path we walked yesterday, together, gorgeously dark and low and croaking. Like after my uncle died, he wasn’t here, but there, roving the cosmos, free and anything but lonely, then back as a breeze pushing lily pads, gentle and moving as a blanket of stars drying on the skyline. I keep going back to the places where deer bark at me, though the surprise made me burst into tears once. I don’t mean to disturb, so I keep my distance. It’s just that my walks taking me back to this herd mean I witness a family choosing itself. They implicate me in the strength of this unstoppable force.


Freesia McKee (she/her) writes about place, gender, and genre through poetry, prose, book reviews, and literary criticism. Recent work appears in Fugue, About Place Journal, Porter House Review, and her newest chapbook, Hummingbird Vows. She is an Assistant Professor of English at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Read more at FreesiaMcKee.com.