The pear tree, bent beside the house, has angry skin, wears many years’ bruises, the applied rod, frenzies of a whip, manacle marks where my brother’s chain fall held the brute mobile, a ’37 Ford engine, as he faltered through the mechanics of July.
In the smashed fist of upper limbs one moon of October, afraid my breath was seen, that an aura glowed my tell-tale place, I soft-chimed my belfry hideaway, saw chums as mice scatter in shadow. In winter it contorts whistles.
I’ve seen Septembers boiling like an olla stew, whipped by Caribbean madness up the coast from Hatteras, but promising only kindling. Its roots are like best friends, summons servers, tax collectors. All my years, it has dared dread December its bidding, worn alien icy crowns sometimes diamond-bright into spring’s heart.
You’ve never known this: in a high fork, sun-bleached, pruned by the hard seasons, your name is another bruise, letters clumped bulgy as toads pretending they will leap. I was fourteen at the carving, feel the knife’s handle yet within my hand, the single breast, hear your windy name sighing through the splatter of leaves, vespers of youth.
Oh, Love, when hearth fire strikes into the names of these limbs, we shall be warm again.