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             the pear tree, hollowing inside, is our grandkids’
             favorite for climbing. tommy, our pet goat, waits
             below, eating all the fruit and leaves he can reach.

my mother halves, cores, removes stringy bits
with surgical skill, as she sings doris day tunes.
we devour the grainy, white flesh.

             a tornado passes near our house; the pear tree survives.
             at harvest, we find some pears embedded with splinters
             of wood, shafts of straw, a human tooth.

the day before dad dies, i eat luscious, ripe
pears with him at the kitchen table, juice
dripping. i take him, that night, back to the hospital.

             an explosion of spring blossoms becomes a promise
             of a bumper crop. mid-summer, all the pears, still immature,
             drop within a week. the leaves blacken and fall.

during mom’s final weeks, she refuses many
foods but allows me to spoon feed her
pureed pears. she smiles at the sweetness.

Marilyn J. Baszczynski, originally from Ontario, Canada, is a retired French teacher who lives and writes in rural Iowa. Her book, Gyuri. A Poem of Wartime Hungary, was published in 2015. Marilyn currently edits Iowa Poetry Association’s annual anthology, Lyrical Iowa.

© 2023, Marilyn J. Baszczynski

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