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"Red Leaves”
Alison Parham

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Ficus Tree Ventures Out

I admire the ficus tree
alongside the bench
in the trash- strewn bus shelter.
Its price tag waves in the breeze.
Taller than the woman who
holds a hand protectively at its trunk
it adds a small green belt on cement.
“Nice tree, looks almost real,” I remark.
“It is real! Half price at CVS” she says.

She blows at leaf dust,
balls up a Kleenex, works it
through the branches, tells me
it will go by the window
in her room, block traffic noise.

Swaying, the tree climbs
clumsily up steps of the huge vehicle,
the bus now glorified, graced
with the abundance of greenery.
The kind driver does not
question its tall bulky presence
as the new owner
steadies it on a seat.

Later, at a busy stop, they disembark.
As we wait for a green light
she crosses four lanes, her prize
proudly lifted shoulder height.

The flood of cars halts
for the ficus tree,
off to its new home
with purpose now,
a bold attempt to muffle
the blare of horns, brakes screeching.

The B and B

                              This being human is a guest house.
                              Every morning a new arrival. Rumi

    Sometimes I mutter:
Welcome to the Bed and Board,
the house that never quite fits
or seems right to me
when it fills, when they spill
to couches, wander rooms at night,
tiptoe on creaky floors, flush toilets.
    Four generations, same old
gold couch we opened for granddaughter,
now her baby squirms, laughs on it.
    Strange house, no guest quarters,
just floors and walls, a decent kitchen
with a view of the woods.
A few deer, a white cat at the window.
A child dancing in her high chair.
    Are they family or guests?
Some of both unpacks giant
shopping bags, a toy basket.
    Kermit is a new guest.
    The cradle rocks! Moms rock!
    The house rocks!
    I don't sleep well in the guest house.
Dream of a small orderly place, a guest
in my own house. But I mash a half banana
for baby Dylan, eat the other end.
Read to her about a piggy
and she thinks I am hilarious.
    So many guests came and went.
Some pearls, some thorns.
Sleeping bags, tents unfolded.
Lost dogs pawed at the door,
the skunk came, wood rats tried
to move in. There were calm guests,
loving visits, others cried during their stays.
Amanda made her farewell journey,
died suddenly that same year.
    When I close the guest house
and the earth welcomes me, dig down,
place my ashes with my husband's
in a loved place, under the Liquidambar tree.



BERNICE RENDRICK – lives in Scotts Valley and attends the library Poetry Circle. She has published in many journals and enjoys every phase of writing.

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Featured Artist
Alison Parham


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