I used to pray to trees
Because I thought god didn’t like me
When we were driving in my mom’s mini van and I was thinking of every way we could crash,
I would ask the dogwood on the side of the road to protect me
When my parents were fighting
I would ask the pine in my backyard to make them stop
When my dad did scary things that I didn’t understand
I would make bargains with oak trees

When you slice into a tree
You can see its whole life written in its body
There are thick white bands for every summer
And skinny dark stripes for every winter
Like the lines your mother drew on the frame of the kitchen door to prove that you were alive
and you were growing
I used to slice into my wrists
Because I wanted to see my whole life written in my body
I saw thick white bands in me from when I was young and love came in and out as if I had left a window open
I saw angry dark lines
From when I grew backwards because that hurt less than letting yourself remember everything that happened to you
I looked at these lines
And I knew that I was alive
and I was growing
And as much as my broken brain told me that I did not belong on this earth
These lines told me not to listen

I want to be a birch tree
I want my thick bark to peel back once a year
And maybe before I grow it thicker
You can see what I really look like
I would peel the skin off of the birch tree that grew in my neighbor’s yard
And the creamy white skeleton of the tree would look out at me
And I thought it was so beautiful and so smooth
And I would pet it as if it were a friendly animal

But something tells me you wouldn’t react that way if you peeled back my skin
And my skeleton looked out at you
I showed it to someone once and he acted like I had shot a gun

I’ve been eating a lot of sunflower seeds lately
Because I’m hoping one of them will take root in my belly and sunflowers
Will grow out of my mouth
That way
It will all have been worth it

All the stunted roots
And growing backwards
And licking bloody wounds
And praying to trees


Maggie Hubacher lives in North Carolina. She enjoys mountain adventuring, goddess mythology, and looking at cats. She is a twenty year old queer artist and writer.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.