Richard Hoffman

Fruit in Season

That spring after my brother’s death

I worked in an orchard. Young, good

with a ladder, I pruned apple trees,

lopped crossed limbs, nipped spurs,


and comforted myself with the notion

my brother was busy underground

carefully disentangling the long roots,

season after season, tree by tree;


but now I know there are people

who tread the earth like water

because below them their dead

are trying to grasp their ankles


and pull them under, so I know

how lucky I am and how grateful

I ought to be: sick for long years

my brother begrudged me nothing.


for R.J.H. 1950-1972

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