Once there, lurking
beneath the skin, it grows
like something akin to the scheming
between fungus and bacteria.
Lichen, its speckled, sour-green patches
nature's blush of envy, is the foam
at the foot of an ailing tree; it lives off
licks of air, then spreads,
sprawling across even the hardest stone, still,
breathing, breeding, mocking the meat
it feeds on, until a splash of vinegar
and a putty knife scrapes it away.
James Strowman lives in Paris, where he is completing a doctorate in musicology and teaching contemporary Anglophone music and poetry at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Frogmore Papers, The Blue Nib Literary Magazine, and Ink Sweat & Tears.