Claudia Emerson

(13 January 1957 / Chatham, Virginia)

Second Bearing 1919 - Poem by Claudia Emerson

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.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, March 21, 2012



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