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'Among the grapefruit' by poet Susan Harvey

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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.