Every early fall, when the leaves still hold to the trees,
but when nights start to get cold, & I'm the only one
in the house who still sleeps with full open night
windows, and mornings, sometimes, you can see
your breath leaving your body. Only the stubborn flowers,
mums, asters, foxgloves, and cosmos as still, & the pears,
whose noisy yellow and green growings surround
our summer lives & summer night dreams and spring
love makings, are wrapped in newspaper and
orderly as kindergardeners in the cupboard. And
after twilight play, I call in my son
and in the lake falling jump-rope purple,
golds and reds we unwrap two pears with the pleasure
of our favorite holidays (his rightfully his
birthday, mine Fat Tuesday). We wash
the pears as you would a greatly loved child
in a Sunday night bath, when you know soon
the child will tell you he is too old for you to bathe him.
Now we wash and unwrap the pears from all
the inky headlines of the world: ethnic
cleansings and weddings, rapes and princesses,
drug house executions, stock market reports,
rescued children and bombings. We unwrap the pears,
remembering the dreams the sping pear blossoms incensed
through out spring-screened, wide-opened windows.
Once while making love in the afternoon,
the house quiet with schooled children,
and the pear tree at its fragrance peak,
it was difficult to tell the difference
between pear blossom and human
love. We unwrap the pears we will eat,
and I remember the summer when for days
I had to be carried outside and put under
the shade love of trees, and was fighting
to hold the baby child inside of me,
and the baby was bleeding to be gone,
and he would bring me ice, and water, and lemon,
and one night in screams and tears
he caught from my body the strange small miniature
jelly baby and put her in his hip-jacket pocket
and carried me weak bleeding to the hospital of sorrows
where I dreamt slept for days. Two summers
later just before the pears would be taken
from the tree to out house, we brought
home a new August boy baby, whom I nursed under the song
of pear leaves and the image of too-fat-soon-
to-fall pears, & the birds were all drunk with too much
of the early fallen fermented fruit, and I was drunk
with new child, and full breasts, and Chinese
lanterns that clapped in wind for all such
joys and fullness. We unwrap the pears
and the awful summer of confusion
where I sat not knowing myself
whether to follow the what or who,
or stay with whom? I was buried under
deaths: mother's, father's, sisters' deaths wrapped me
like surgical wrap. And who and where would I be
when all their gauzy deaths were removed?
We unwrap the pears like our sweet lives
that grow into beautiful unknown
shapes and colors, some June fall, wind fall.
Some grow lovely bumped, soft spoiled and awkward.
After the first white slippery bite,
I make you tell me what moment
of the pear's growing you are tasting.
Because you are six, you say, “You
go first.” I bite and taste and tell
of eating starlight, and lightning, and the music
of your father's cornet (Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust")
the late summer night he played outside
the Perseids star showers and him 11 P.M.
playig outside because the summer house was
too hot to enter & there was no lake breeze,
& we sat sweaty wet in our bathing suits & the lights
of the many candles we surrounded ourselves in.
And now I'm telling you that I'm eating all
the lights: the alley lit by streetlight light,
music & starlght, & lightning & candle
of that night. We bite again.
You tell me that you taste racoon dreams
from the night the racoons climbed up the tree
and hung their tails Davy Crockett hatlike down
through the lush leaves and starting pears.
Your memory makes me taste the song of the migrating
flock of yellow warblers that June rested in the tree.
Because you are 6, I do not tell you
but I even taste the February
pear tree of the ice frozen world, night
of my 45-year-old sister's death,
there was not one leaf, not one pear.
All the world was frozen and covered empty,
like the pear tree that screamed the empty
inside of a mouth in an Edvard Munch painting terror.
Bix, together we are eating the hysterically clean hearts
of pears, which get sweeter & sweeter as they age.
I am 44. Soon I will be 45. The cupboard is filled
with carefully wrapped pears. We are eating pears
& our lives. We are memorizing the lives of pears
together at the now night table we eat from.
You are 6. You are good at this. You tell me:
“A pear tastes nothing like it looks.”
And together we bling bite, we eat our way
into the many stories of pears.