Lemon Tree

My grandfather has a face just like

My father’s—the same small nose,

Thin lips, square chin—they both direct you

Even when you’re just driving

Out of the driveway.


When we were small, my sisters and I

Visited grandfather at his small house:

We loved Great America’s carousel,

The hot California sun on our pale

Alaskan faces, but most of all we loved

Grandfather’s lemon tree.


We’d never seen fruit on a tree—

Just in supermarket aisles—and we danced

Around its roots, trying to touch

The perfect sun-yellow lemons

Heavy on its branches.


Hearing our oohs and ahhs, grandfather

Sent us home to Alaska with a big bag—

Crumpled brown paper—full of lemons;

He never said he loved us, but I still

Remember the smell of those bright lemons

On those dark, cold days—and the taste

Of tart-sweet lemon meringue pie

All that long winter.


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