child-bearing my neighbor has a pocket knife he uses to whittle trees into children. he starts at the top removing each limb one by one. the branches fall as arms. elbow & all. piles of limp forearms in the grass. beneath dirt, their toes curled like beans. i watch from my adolescence-window as he brings them each meal. ladles soup down their throats. warm biscuits & sometimes a caramel. the tree children ask him every night when he's going to pull them up & let them run away. the children dream of drinking from rivers & writing a name with chalk on the driveway. after the limbs are removed he works the torso. thrusts into the tree's meat working & working until the figure starts to emerge. for him, there are never enough children. at night, in his house, the neighbor reads alone. he opens a bible but doesn't believe. likes the routine of the passages. dog ears the ones about salvation. looks out the window at the tree children as they try to sleep standing up. then, looks across the way to me & our gazes meet for a moment between the glass of both our windows. he doesn't blink. he nods & all night i dream of being one of his trees. my own father is working on a bottle cap machine & my mother is knitting a cozy for the moon. i need a man with a knife to make me a child again.