all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Monday, April 11, 2005

without fail

the avocado tree outside the sliding glass doors
of my living room sprang from a series of pits
two young girls tossed from their bedroom balcony
in various fits of boredom and scientific curiosity.
or so my landlord tells me, his daughters now
grown and sprouting seeds of their own,
MBAs, new york careers, the lot of it.
he points out the other haphazard, accidental bloomings -
a cherry tree, orange, plum - but says, with a grimace
and an odd sense of satisfaction,
that none of the fruit is edible.

i try anyway.
steal down the trap door to the garden
on a day he's not here, spend an hour wandering
the overgrowth. the trees are weighty
with fruit and possibility
and i just don't believe him.
this is not some desert mirage.
what i see, in fact, is
the opposite of fallow.
a matrix of earth and roots and all the good tools
for bearing fruit. couldn't get any
better than this, I think,
the right shade, the right sun, rain,
all of it right and obviously more than enough.

the trees stand transcendent and wise,
and indeed, the branches climb higher
than i'll ever be.
a primal tangle of
bark and leaf and blossom, but mostly
what there is
is fruit.

poised there like a studio photograph,
all luster and perfection,
something Mappethorpe could have conjured
in his off-hours from the lilies.
the trees gratuitous with fruit,
gorgeous orbs of color, and the word bounty
is what springs to mind at a moment like this.
or eden. i am in
such a garden.

and yet.
each thing i take, once opened,
reveals the true truth of itself.
under shiny, promising skins,
the interiors have waged a losing battle.
without fail
the plums and cherries are ruined microcosms of flesh,
the oranges hollow skeletons of their well-fed supermarket cousins.
the avocados have simply lied to themelves.
inside their mottled moonscape shells
lies a fibrous wasteland of pit and disease.

i wonder how, with its fruit in such decline,
and a graveyard of castoffs haloing
undereath, like a perpetual, vicious reminder of
doom and genetic horticultural failure
how a tree, nevertheless, can aim skyward
with such unstoppable
abandon.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

maya

your writing is beautiful. it is enjoyable and i look for something new on your site each day. your word choice inspires me to read the thesaurus for fun.