Eating Pears

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.