Today's poem is by Claudia Emerson

Second Bearing, 1919

—for my father

I have asked him to tell it—how
             he heard the curing barn took hours

to burn, the logs thick, accustomed
             to heat—how, even when it was clear all

was lost, the barn and the tobacco
             fields within it, they threw water

instead on the nearby peach tree,
             intent on saving something, sure,

though, the heat had killed it, the bark
             charred black. But in late fall, the tree

broke into bloom, perhaps having
             misunderstood the fire to be

some brief, backward winter. Blossoms
             whitened, opened. Peaches appeared

against the season—an answer,
             an argument. Word carried. People

claimed the fruit was sweeter for being
             out of time. They rode miles to see it.

He remembers my grandfather
             saying, his mouth full, this is

a sign, and the one my father
             was given to eat—the down the same,

soft as any other, inside
             the color of cream, juice clear

as water, but wait, wait; he holds
             his cupped hand up as though for me

to see again there is no seed,
             no pit to come to—that it is

infertile, and endless somehow.

Copyright © 2005 Claudia Emerson All rights reserved
from Smartish Pace
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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