The Memory Tree

Fruit isn’t my favorite thing to eat,
but I trust my friend who says
to try the black plum I hold in my hand.
The juice spills over my chin as I sink my teeth
into the soft flesh. Mark is right.
Plums are delicious.

The tree stands in the center of the backyard
where we spend lots of times in the summer.
I can see my house on the other side of the fence.
I prefer here than there,
the house where my parents yell
at each other.  

If the tree had eyes,
it would see me drag
a 2 x 4 with Mark’s shoe stuck
on a rusted nail. I show it to his mother
who ran out when he screamed.
We were in the old guest house. The floor
was covered by boards that we crossed
like slabs of riverstone.

If the tree had eyes,
it would see five-year-old Emily
who chases me on another summer day.
She tackles me to the ground,
smothers me with kisses.

I still have the picture my mother took
of her and me on the porch
with my arm over her shoulder.
Without it, I would not remember
how she looked; platinum blonde hair
and a smile that would melt
the devil’s heart.

© Josslyn Turner

Second Place winner in the 2018 Celebration of the Humanities at Modesto Junior College.

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