Childhood, the first eternity,
as I wandered our vast acre,
trying to escape the sun.

How lonely it seemed with no children
nearby, just my sister, an insistent mouth
at Mother’s worried breast.

Catalpa trees fanned their leaves like aunts
trying to save their powder from streaking.
No clambering into their narrow laps.

The pear oozed like a teenager
craggy with acne, its bark a magnet
for columns of ants.

I circled the firs and stroked the knees of elm and oak,
giants in conversation
as the wind riffled their hair.

Only the apple tree
was short and broad
enough to harbor this restless climber.

Its cool fire surrounded me
as I climbed into flowered lace
and huddled in the second crook, watching

leaves, then apples, sweeten on stems,
here where all the trouble began,
in the garden of the heart.

At night I dreamed
the whole miracle again,
an explosion of green branching into darkness,

and yet I wanted more,
some escape from what I was,
from what my parents wanted me to be.

Come morning I’d drape myself along a limb
like a python, inhale the husky perfume, stroke
the swollen fruit, as if this had always been my home.