Thirty-Three Fruits

Day 5: Yes, I needed one pear tree. No, it didn’t stop at that. I have become fascinated with the history, symbolism, various root stocks, and nomenclature of the beasts. The French adore their pears, the English their apples and ciders, the Japanese have their own fruit, and old Ontario farm yards are unearthing surprisingly neglected histories surrounding the interrupted arduous journey of Canadian apples. Thankfully, I am not the only one smitten with stories of pippins (“pip of a fruit”) and their stories are written about in all kinds of places, but most importantly in the actions of dedicated breeders who are at last salvaging these nearly lost heritage plants. This spring, I will have planted pears, apples, cherries, plums, quince, plumcots, grapes for the table & pies, and grapes fermented for my goblet.

Thirty-three fruits, to succor my heart and tongue.

In the bitterest of early winter, after my father died, with all the emotional tumult of a death in an already torn apart family, one death crashing into another, one of my first defiant and angry acts of rampage against the victory of death, was to take as much limb death out of the orchard as I possibly could. There was death everywhere, both in my family, and all over the farm.  In the freezing December cold up a ladder with a hack saw in hand, tears streaming down my cheeks, loud rage hitting the skies and sorrow flushed over my cheeks, perched in the place that meant most to my father, I wrote this poem in honour of my dear brilliant unhappy cousin Glen Allen, who has since killed himself.

Another Glen

I am taking death out of the yard

it sounds like birds in the trees

I heard a falcon once

playing like

Glen Gould

or at least

out of his own centre

like another Glen


I heard my daughter studying

the descant of Latin

her test the day

she was dead tired

a long gone language

brought straight to her

from her entire mouth and family

and by not naming living geniuses

– history gone by the wayside


you can’t imagine

she was feeling

that her 17th candle burned like this

droning that memory it had the exuberance

to charm something

off you and Caesar alike


And you can’t imagine what it feels like

to be Bach on the pretty keys

to pretend this lopping procedure is schooled

still on a Baroque tinkling

worship, its devolution of dénouement

of the same intricacy as the poem

that follows the poem

I wrote months before

just after the death of my father

just after he sang Broadway musicals from his oxygen mask

his death bed and before my will

had changed

come alive knowing he had failed

to call for the nurse on time, failed

with dynamic

to utter a thing

To careen for a year

over the anger this man spread


you can imagine Christmas morning

opening a heart attack

you can imagine we all went along

continued all openings and containment

his direction

all wrappings the point of unnaming

any  thing he did


the thing we did

was to leave our reference to the hospital staff

business announced over P.A.

non information but

Dr. So and So to Intensive Care

running carts past the lone blood limb

institutional hum

leaving burial under officious dismissal

standing ignorant at a visitor lounge threshold

as an entire filial relationship

can be institutionalized


in an evening gesture


all of us not knowing

what the man who could face down a three year old

had on his silent tongue had

to keep from

the man who could scream to dawn air

Latin reaming classics

over a dead tongue of prey


I sing a lullaby from a limb

and hope to get sleep

like a genius

hope that the practice

of centurions

will give me flight

over dead keys

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