lemon tree

lemon tree
september 2010

A Weathercat snapped lemon construction

even new leaves
were waxy and
quickly curled up,
turned brittle
crinkly leaf
was it called?
a sickness that
rose somehow
through the tree
to the tip
of leaf
and branch
snapping off
dead dry
the lemons though
were good
never picked green
for none of us picked
them too often.

the best game
our neighbour’s son
and i played was
to pick a full
yellow one, that
could hardly be
riper, slice it up
on a saucer,
bring it to my dad
working on something
out in the shed
and tell him
it was an orange,
though the skin was
yellow, it was
a newer kind.
he never tired
of playing it out,
doubted it, asked again
if we were sure it was
an orange, bit into
it greedily then
pulled that face,
a whole face squinted
up, his mouth, eyes and
nose squeezed to a point
on the shock
of the sour

years later i heard
from mum he would
sometimes suck
on a piece of lemon
because he loved
the sour taste
who had been
fooling whom?

maybe i
can learn this
too, sucking
on bitter
time and
liking it
turning my
face away
into the

Copyright ©2010 Peter Le Baige.  All Rights Reserved

Click on the link above to hear a reading of the poem.  The background music is from the version of the song ‘Lemon Tree’ as recorded by the Kingston Trio on their 1961 album ‘Lemon Tree’.

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