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The Grapefruit Tree

"This fall we'll offer nothing for the harvest"

Published onNov 16, 2022
The Grapefruit Tree

~Photo by Jared Subia:

February 2021, Rio Grande Valley

I feel the phantom heaviness of her
tugging at my branches, though it’s been
weeks since she and all her sisters fell.

The memory is frost-blurred in my roots:
the shock of polar wind between my leaves,
the crystalizing ice, the branches’ ache,
and then the loosening, the letting go,
the sudden thump, the weightlessness that followed.

How can I go on? Impossible.
I sit with this, the scent of so much loss
lingering through March as rinds and fruit
become a heap of humus at my roots.
This should be the season of their growing,
round like bellies, swelling ruby red,
peels becoming golden in the summer,
each fruit a universe of seeds and tartness,

all fallen to the frozen ground this season
at the hands of February’s freeze.
And there are groves of us, of grapefruit trees,
weeping in silence in the aftermath,
brittle and brown, refusing spring’s amends.
This fall, we’ll offer nothing for the harvest.

The gulf breeze urges me to rise again
from this bed, to bathe in morning sunlight,
dress in emerald leaves, and spritz myself
with the dulcet scent of citrus blossoms.

How can I do that, God—to try again
with such a weight still heavy in my heartwood?

 Katherine Hoerth is the author of five poetry collections, including the forthcoming Flare Stacks in Full Bloom (Texas Review Press, 2022). She is the recipient of the 2021 Poetry of the Plains Prize from North Dakota State University Press and the 2015 Helen C. Smith Prize from the Texas Institute of Letters for the best book of poetry in Texas. Her work has been published in numerous literary magazines including Literary Imagination (Oxford University Press), Valparaiso Review, and Southwestern American Literature. She is an assistant professor at Lamar University and editor of Lamar University Literary Press.

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