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I remember walking the orchard rows

and picking ten flowers from ten apricot trees,

then opening them with my thumbnail,

one by one, peeling back the white petals

to reveal the telling heart. In some,

the pistil and style were still green,

in others, shriveled and black.

We could estimate percentages—

how much of the crop had survived.

 

It takes only a half an hour for a killing frost

to render barren dozens of acres of trees.

And what of the human heart? If it

had blossoms, could we count them, too,

and say after a cold spell, what chance

love had of staying on the tree? Is it

simply a matter of degree? And duration,

too, of course. Or is there something more?

 

Sometimes the loss of fruit is a blessing—

the tree can only support so much.

But is it the same with love? Is there

a kindness in loss? Or is love not like

the cherry tree, not like the apricot?

Does it want only to thrive, to blossom,

to offer as much as it can?

 

And let’s say there is no fruit.

Trees still need water, need nourishment.

So much investment for what looks

like a season when nothing will ripen.

Tell yourself, one season is not

the life of an orchard. Tell yourself

sometimes it’s worse than it seems.

Sometimes there’s life high up in the tree.

Sometimes it’s a killing freeze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In Susan’s Backyard

Spryly
highly
yesly
mumly
Aiden
climbs the
laden
plum tree
smiley
wily
sparkling
eye-ly
Aiden
tosses
ripe plums
highly
through
the air
my hands
are there
sweet boy
who lives
so me
oh my-ly.

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Sticky

No one ever said
how high the apple was,
and just how much

of a stretch it might have been
for Eve to pick it.
I think about this today

as I reach for the small, round
purple fruits I cannot name.
There is pleasure and

frustration in not knowing
what to call something
so pleasuresome, so good.

The tree is tall. I do not
need a snake to invite me
to reach. And when I

devour the sweet purple flesh
and the soft cream around
the large black seeds,

I do not need anyone
to bid me take another bite.
I do not share.

From not far away, a rooster
crows. From not far away,
the sound of wind disturbing

dried banana leaves. Those
trees are not so difficult to reach.
Scent of the sea, is it? I do not

pause long to consider the possibilities,
purple juice streaming down
the long, not quite long enough

reach of my arm.

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