In the Orchard

On the way home from the hospital you want to pick Comice pears at the farm stand, so I drive us around to the back orchard, with its short, scraggly trees. Yellow leaves hang loose on the branches, and a few twigs reach feebly for the gentle gray sky. Almost before I stop the car you are out and headed down the rows, picking your way over clods with your shiny bronze cane, like the Queen Mother. I hurry behind, carrying our two white buckets. Somewhere nearby the river is meandering--I can feel it.

"Here's one. And here's one," you say, pulling at the full green fruit. We'll let the pears ripen, then lean over the kitchen sink, bite into their buttery flesh, let the juice drip down our chins.

The lower branches have been picked over, so I scramble up the trunk and pass pears down to you. Somehow I can't shake the feeling that it's really you in this tree, climbing high up into the branches, to fragile twigs even I can't reach. You'll take one last step into the soft clouds, leaving me on the ground with a bucket of pears that I'll carry back home, saying "Here, this is what we gathered, in the orchard."


Why couldn't you leave cleanly?
The arrogance of your oxblood loafers lying there
for all to see, in the living room --
as if your warm, sock-covered feet
would fill them momentarily,
as if you'd slipped on boots
to carry luggage graciously for guests,
as if we counted more than little pills.

You needn't remind us
you should be standing there
lighting candles, telling stories,
waxing effusive about mountains, love, politics.
Really, how could we forget you
chose to keep your big appointment?

I think it's true. You're selfish enough
to leave your shoes there on purpose,
creased and sweat-stained, so that
even now you are the center of attention.

After Surgery

Since when do doctors break smooth bones
juice pulsing hearts to quietude
trim and toss a floppy valve
just because it's old and tired? Who's not?

Here, they say in ethered haze,
meet your new dance partner. He's
Fred Astaire on steroids
Gene Kelly in hypoallergenic jacket
silken Gregory Hines, always by your side ...
the elegant, the virile Mister Titanium
whose metallic beat (click click, click click)
will show you just which way is which.

At home, though, Mister Titanium counts
not dances (click click, click click).
At night when others fade away
in my ear (click click, click click)
he ticks off sorrows, shame, regrets.
Souped-up timer (click click, click click)
can't stop counting
seconds left.


He mounted the stoop
in just one stride,
tousled the dog's ears,
slipped inside.
All day long
I, disarmed, glimpsed soft pink curves,
smelled tender roses,

Content © Ann Sihler
All rights reserved.

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