Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Old Groves


In old groves
the rows still run straight,
but that is all.
There can be no more chases
down the open lanes,
no more games.

Palmettos wave
and wildflowers bloom a carpet
when once the dirt
was kept clear
by constant feet.
Tall weeds grow
as kings unchecked
winding up
to strangle
in the crooks
of old limbs.

Once, all that was native
was tilled under
to nourish trees
that had no business
growing here.
Creeks were
redirected
to rush water
at thirsty roots
and there was prosperity
for a time.

Fortunes were made here
where the orange fruit
of a dozen seasons
now hangs unpicked,
waiting,
ripening,
mouldering away.
Brilliant hues
fade dusty
and sun washed
in the dry air.

Growing
is the only knowledge
of a tree.

Still they hunch
with limbs spreading
and spill
bounty
into the tumble
of weeds
and furtive rodents
as nature rolls back;
a wide wave
of unstoppable green.

Now,
one must look close
to know
the past of this place.
One must remember
times long gone
to taste sweet fruit,
to see proud trees,
and to know
the harsher, less certain
life of those
newly come to this land.

Tumbledown trees
are the only pioneers
that remain,
their orange memories
falling,
fading.

The smell of the river lingers
in this bend of orchard
now bisected with macadam
and patch-worked out
for emerald lawns
of new homes
that will look nothing
like an old farmhouse
that crouches still
in the distance.

Cats have taken
up root there
and gone feral
where the roof pours
sunlit pools upon
an ancient hardwood floor.
They lounge,
content
in a breeze of
orange and river
ever rolling
through the yawn
of broken windows
to carry the rumble
of a freeway
in the distance.

March 4, 2008
Kristen Gilpin

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