Thorns by Shawn McClure

The Roundleaf Briar has unyielding vines, harder than wood. It has thorns as big as cat claws, and can leave you bleeding. They stand guard over the woods, a dense and complicated barrier between civilization and the wild. They only hurt those who dare enter. Nettles have an invisible sting. You can walk through the tall summer weeds and find yourself stricken. They go for innocence and tender skin. They are easily dealt with, and delicious with a little butter and salt. Wild roses are more tricky. They lure you in with scented promises. Graceful arches and tangles make safe thickets, a shaded world for nests. They have sharp, curved thorns. Sometimes you find yourself standing amidst them, trapped and bleeding, unable to go this way or that. The lark will sing its song and pay you no mind, the vulture will smell your distress and begin to circle. Summer roses become a lethal trap. Autumn can find your bones picked clean and glinting, all for the want of a bouquet.

Shawn McClure is a visual artist and writer who resides in central New Jersey with her family and some cats. She has a passion for nature, science, and beauty found in unexpected places. Her work has appeared in Kindred and Red Flag Poetry, among others.