My lover planted a Japanese red maple

in the French countryside and named its shade

after me. I’m shamelessly in love with the blue

towel draped over the wooden chair and the shutters

haphazard in their candor toward the sun.

This is a photograph.

This is a poem

about a photograph.

These are the planes

of spiderweb

taut across the ovate

and elliptic leaves

of the laurestine, the rake

pitched forward

and drunk in the low

green canopy,

and the brindle cat with panicked jaw-bird

steps       over the spring’s baked matter

and looks       past the camera, presumably

into the eyes       of my lover, its writhing


in flight


to the belly. Love

is like that sometimes: passing

through teeth & tongue, the red

of the flesh-cave darkening

and your heart a poem

about a photo

about a poem.

Alex Tretbar won the 2022 PEN America Prison Writing Contest in Poetry, and was a finalist for the 2021 PEN/Edward Bunker Prize in Fiction. His work appears in or is forthcoming from Poetry Northwest, Snarl, Cobra Milk, Coal City Review, and Placed: An Encyclopedia of Central Oregon. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.