To My Landlord

White pear blossoms and green leaves against a blue sky

A lull in our sidewalk chat: You eyed
the gnarled pear tree profusely
in blossom, rejuvenated it seemed by
the pruning it got in March’s ice storm.
“Got to sharpen the chainsaw,” you said.
“Meant to cut her down before now.”

Stunned, I was tongue-tied for a moment.
“Really? It’s kind of lopsided but still looks…lovely.”
You grinned as though reminded of a joke
you couldn’t hold back. Yes, you’d kept the tree around
to add a little bit of…charm.
You savored the word. Then eyed me frankly.
“Don’t want to worry about more branches falling,
and the fruit’s only good for attracting varmints.”

I just stood there, tight-lipped, wishing I had
my wife’s exuberant hands and the moxie
to argue at least for a seasonal reprieve.
But what could I have said more eloquently
than the white flowers dancing above our heads
and the delicate petals strewn around our feet?

I guess I could have changed the topic,
asked about your promise to get more gravel
for your tenants’ abruptly steep driveway,
a safety issue, right?
With several such requests,
maybe I could have made that tree one of those chores
you never get around to doing.

One night last fall, after a rainstorm stripped bare
every tree in the yard, I stood on my way inside
looking at the full moon. Turning around,
I was overcome by the little pear tree’s geyseric
upsweep and arcing branches sparkling
with innumerable pinpoint lights:
every drooping twig held a glistening drop.

Well, now I have that tree’s memory as a blessing.
May you have its sprouting roots to worry about.

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