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An olive tree in flower

A B-grade movie drumbeat of doors and panes,

all night the wind tackles this eyrie

where I will try to sleep on the sofa-bed that only I have mastered

beneath photos of great-great grandmothers in sheitels,

graduations, weddings, and someone who looks like me

leaning against my first car.


My hollow-eyed cave-wall reflection presides over

the empty intersection below. Streetlight touches

a bag of cherries growing pulpy, a newspaper creased at the obituaries,

the Ezi-Read calendar floating in the darkened kitchen.

Dishes gleam where Dad sang as he did the washing up,

motes rising in staves of moonlight as if the melody lingered.


They waited hopefully all day for one of my famous jokes. 

But my humours bubbled away in solicitude’s alembic,

all day my tempers hissed and leaked

like a geothermal zone, bubbles of impatience popping

as my dogged, dutiful performance was transformed

into fairy-tale kindness in chats with the neighbours,


conversations gapped by what they mustn’t be told

about family crises, dispatches from distant wars

and on the other side of telling,

the names of villages and cameo players’ stories

scattered like pages from albums

as the binder’s glue crumbles.


A last look at my e-mails.  My wife has sent me

a picture of our olive tree. To her delight

it has flowered for the first time,

A smattering of white and green neon bunting, 

nubs askew, like families holding hands in kindergarten paintings.   

Perhaps after fruitless years pot-bound roots have found

a way through to the soil,


or perhaps  

it was time for some fabled bird, 

down from circling time’s thermals, high and alone,  

to lift its flamboyant tail from the garden’s tapestry 

into a momentary renown.

StylusLit, September 2023

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