The One-Year-Old Lemon Tree

By W. S. Di Piero b. 1945
Its small celestial reach stops
       where the counterweight, the first
             tough green fruit, pulls earthward   
and returns the brazen, almost rank perfume   
of blossoms now six months gone.

The slurred odor of its leaves
       calls back that long evening’s end:
             we shivered in the cool light   
a northerly sun bent against the world   
into the hands of friends

who helped clear the outdoor supper’s
       sharp debris—forks, tin plates,
             balled napkins and bone nests.   
The lemon blossoms throbbed. The air   
slowed with so much young life,

the fragrance quickened in our veins
       the common, too surprising wish
             to hold, just then, another,   
whoever stood nearest, whatever charm   
would bind us to the lowering light.

Then someone said, “Let’s eat the tree”—
       Tear apart the bole, raid the green heart,
             devour remembrance with one moment’s   
hunger and eat the nature of things.
Scraped plates, laughter, glasses refilled . . .

Our sweet anger urged and gathered us
       around the young tree’s tub, made us
             tamp the wet soil and drink fast   
the clear smell of unseen yellow fruit   
in time we ourselves might never know.

W. S. Di Piero, “The One-Year-Old Lemon Tree” from The Dog Star. Copyright © 1990 by W. S. Di Piero. Reprinted with the permission of The University of Massachusetts Press.

Source: The Dog Star (University of Massachusetts Press, 1990)

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Poet W. S. Di Piero b. 1945

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Nature, Trees & Flowers

 W. S. Di Piero


W.S. Di Piero was born in 1945 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and earned degrees from St. Joseph’s College and San Francisco State College. A poet, essayist, art critic, and translator, Di Piero has taught at institutions such as Northwestern University, Louisiana State University, and Stanford, where he is professor emeritus of English and on faculty in the prestigious Stegner Poetry Workshop. Elected to the American Academy of . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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