"Self Portrait"
Copyright 2001 Galina Lukshina

In Tandem

You never wasted fruit
but made jam from Morello cherries,
bottled the plums, cut newspaper
into squares to wrap the apples.
I videoed you once - just your head
grinning from the Conference Pear
as though there was nothing more to you
than that. You were a man on stilts
never dreaming your luck would turn.
The blight began in early Spring,
scorching the blossom, sooting veins
with a fine charcoal line
until in June the leaves were glued
to their own blackened stems.
You were in the hospital
when the tree surgeons came.
The trees were bare by then
but I showed the men which one to cut down
and they lopped the rest, spraying
the crippled frames with winterwash,
sealing their wounds, leaving me
with a pile of orange chippings
and a garden that smelt of tar.
Three years, they said, till the fruit
came back to those stopped-off limbs
but already a stubble of twigs
is itching to bud and, chances are
you'll see the blossom - if not the fruit.

Ruth Smith  copyright 2001

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