'Among the grapefruit' by poet Susan Harvey
Poet Susan Harvery reads her poem "Among the grapefruit." Susan lives on a ranch in an area that was swept by the LNU Lightening Complex Fires of August 2020. Many of her neighbors and friends, like the man in this poem, lost their homes and everything in them. This poem sorrows for the loss, and celebrates the quiet strength, of survivors everywhere.
Among the grapefruit
In the days after the fires we came upon
our neighbor reclining comfortably under
his old grapefruit tree surrounded by
fruit fallen from the scorched crown
a few fruit full and bright yellow but most
blackened into lesser phases of moons
knocked from their orbits
to the patch of ashy grass.
Behind him what was left of his house —
two low sets of brick steps rising
from left and right as though to a vanished stage
and three cinderblock walls leaning over
a pit of indecipherable fragments.
Such treasures had been in that cellar!
Homemade pickles luminous as stained glass
in their mason jars. Slivovitz and
grappa distilled from his orchards waiting
to be lavishly joyfully poured. As he lay
under the tree he spoke quietly
into his phone — perhaps to someone who had
once sipped brandy in that obliterated house.
He had not heard our approaching steps.
In silence we witnessed how after
unfathomable loss people calmly
recline among the ruins of their houses
and talk softly of their past happiness.