I wrote this poem in February, 2000. A dear friend was dying. A petty thief had robbed every house on our block but ours. (It turned out to be a young patient from my residential facility and he skipped our house because I was his doctor). A family member was sick and I was helpless to intervene. On the floor of the bathroom sobbing, I was determined to grow beyond these problems and not let them define me. Driving to work, I gazed in amazement at the apple trees growing a snowfield. Skeletal arms lifting to the sky in zero degrees. I thought, “Damn it, if these trees can live, so can I.” And I have.

The line “leave Even with the apple’s core”reiterates that we can walk in love, shine light and be light in a fallen world. We do not have to eat rotten apples.

2/17/00 1:23pm

Wisdom

Wisdom lives in trees growing in rows in an orchard. Black bones
bared to weather-January’s mercury did not rise above zero.
These are living trees. They are vines beckoning villagers to be still,
to become one, as roots, her stick-like fingers, cling deeply to the even colder ground. Arms beg the sky, rock me waxing moon. Charred wings lift white and gray. Ice crystals fall, frozen sculptures mirroring skeletal ribbons.

Black rhythm bangs out white, ridden by winter’s rage. These trees
live in an orchard by a road outside our village green and fountain,
where a copper girl stands erect. Her arms arise, branches everbearing buds as suspended capsules slumber, awaiting rugged higher light for birth.
Some jesters believe they are mortal but not so, for the immersed know of pink nectar, apple crisp and dumplings, hark the humming buzz, the seasonal ring.

Boughs embalmed in a frozen field off Brimfield just beyond a winding
asphalt trail. Leave Eve with the apple’s core, hear the wailing, beckoning
us to join the stand. Sweep our limbs into the harsh freeze and grow
as the apple tree does. Hard cores, wooden layers wrap diminishing
concentric waves. Live with winter’s fleeting caresses, bones bared to seasonal tides. Wisdom lives in frozen rows in an orchard by a road which leads to our village.

Julia W. Burns, MD

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