carol muske dukes

Twin Tree

A tree divided. It grew like that—
Its slender trunk suddenly forking,

Lifting up from the crux in two Shiva arms—
As if it had come to a crossroads and split

The way twins unpeel from one another 
In the womb. Two from one, it reached up

And flourished this way—it topped thirty feet 
As its thick dark glossy leaves, half-folded like

Paper boats, kept the nubs of coming pears 
Hidden then dangling. Avocado, avocado.

I held you in my hand as a big wrinkled pit,
Propped you (as I’d been taught once by a lover

Who was trouble) with four toothpicks over a glass 
Filled with water—till the tiny white filament inside

Your worried seed slowly let itself down into the 
Clear transparency, while sprouting above into a

Green feasible stem. I transplanted those floating roots,
The top-heavy shoot after weeks—then waited till it

Reached out at last—growing fast in both directions,
Down into dirt, up into the sky over the backyard. When

It twinned, climbing upward, I stopped my husband, 
Standing hard by with shears, from pruning it back

Into one: The only way it would survive he said. But 
It doubled skyward into the single tree at the top—

A hermaphrodite—as it had to be to make fruit. So 
Many alligator pears, summer after L.A. summer! We

Filled baskets with the abundance of the you 
And you: the fruit of two separate flowerings

From one quick hesitation. Till days after David died, 
When clumsy workmen, digging a trench, severed your

Taproot. I saw the white exposed arteries they’d chopped clean 
With their spades. I stood beside you weeping, trying to hold

Your heart together with my hands at the fork where you'd 
Leaned apart, then towered. You were my love, conflict tree,—

Tough-skinned, the rich light-green flesh beneath. Avocado, 
They killed you. When we sold the house, you were a cut stump.

– carol muske-dukes