Between cupped hands I hold all this of you:
the bowing heads of lemon blossoms curving suspended above the wet dirt
straining towards the new-leafed purple vine that unfurls in the last stretching days of rain.
Soon, like last year, we will decorate the lemon tree with tinsel and cheap ornaments
and (no doubt) we will leave them up too long,
til the sunlight cools and the lemons swell and pin each silver bauble to its place.
In the scorch of summer, we will swing ropes of hose across the boughs
stand in the cold spray, icy mangos clenched in our fists and sweetness sticky on our skin.
We will set up picnics on crooked Ikea tables, plug the slats
with lavender and nasturtium, and you might raise a glass of whiskey to my goose-pricked lips.
I shaped this tree when it grew so heavy with sun-brushed fruit it bent and snapped
I cut it down and back to make it strong, carved out its failings, its ever falling down on us.
The thorns lodged deep; one in my thumb,
a well of red blood that I slipped and smeared on the washing machine (broken)
and the dishwasher (also broken), a citrus-scented blood-rite.
Sometimes even now, when I walk on the grass beneath its proud carved head
(see how strong it grows?) I catch abandoned spines in my heel.
Here, we lie on this patch of grass when I am too dizzy to stand. You slip me strawberries
and try to snare the WiFi from inside.
Here, you hoist our friend above your head so they can scramble on the roof,
retrieve the cat (too adventurous for her own good), drop her into your waiting arms.
Here, we sit drinking a whole bottle of Veuve, just the two of us,
and I shriek as you dip a Golden Gaytime into your glass (but you’re right, it sort of works.)
We gather our loves under this tree, feed off its fruit
and it witnesses so many songs and tears and blessings and smoke-filled nights
shelters the herbs peeking from their city dirt
brushes up close against my scalp
each trip out to the bins or the car or the lawn
a thousand layers of memory above my head,
cupped between my pale and thinning hands.
I hold all this of you: the breath of lemon blossoms in your hair.
Hester J. Rook is a Rhysling Award nominated writer and co-editor of Twisted Moon Magazine, often found salt-scrunched on beaches, reading arcane tales and losing the moon in mugs of tea. Find Hester on Twitter @hesterjrook and read more poems and fiction at https://hesterjrook.com.