I remember the walnut tree that showered its leaves
Like brown rain, piling into puddles slivers at a time,
Creating the messy mulch of Fall’s mounds,
Bane of us chore-age children, who, layered like
Winter casseroles, were pulled from warm shelves
And served under the weeping canopy of Oregon skies,
My single, red, raw, thumb peeping from its wrap
To clamp the stilt of a long rake, dull gaping grill
Of metal teeth gnawing grassy noggin’s leafy hat,
Balding the yard’s thick tufts as it chewed
The cud we neatly heaped into plastic bags,
But not before my brother belly-flopped
Onto their careful groupings, dispelling all order.
I remember the walnut tree that released its pulpy harvest,
Impregnating our nubile lawn with mushy green wombs,
Wombs of wombs, slimy pockets cradling wrinkled shells,
Bounty for which we settled brown bags beside our naked legs,
And filled and filled and filled, as if to sate the Suitors
Outside Penelope’s door, shouting for walnut’s tasty meat,
Whose charge slept beneath a leaden seal, holding halves
‘Till butter knives cajoled their split;
Eager eyes watched Mom conjure from recipe books yellowed
And stained with egg whites and frosting,
Cakes, breads, cookies, and other concoctions whose batter
Dripped from blender spoons to call to youthful tongues.
I remember the walnut tree and its rich purveyance of stability,
Tracing deep, embedded roots while mine went withering
From shallow clay to which they clung, slipping their grip
The Fall my family fell, and congregating leaves went
Unnoticed from the curtained windows of our muted home.
Still the walnut tree shed, slept, rebuilt, grew,
In nature’s dutiful way: unquestioning, reflexive, noble.
© 2003 Peter Andrew Nelson
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