You made a map of fruit trees
we would find when we were hungry.
With plums, camouflaged by their red leaves,
the hardest, sourest ones were all yours,
puckering your smile,
while I reached for the sun-hot over-ripened ones,
even those on the ground claimed first by ants.
And the loquats that no locals touched,
were hard but juicy when just right,
and one seed I planted grew.
Prickly pears, roosted atop cacti,
soft enough to pick when red,
stayed with us for weeks,
or at least their needles did, lodged in our fingers.
I boosted you up to pluck the fattest lemon
from a branch just out of reach,
while a resident white cat looked on.
Fig trees bursting with figs too green
were finally ready in September,
but we had to climb fences for the unpicked fruit:
we figured they were abandoned,
and therefore ours.
And even the dainty strawberry trees,
native to this place,
snuck up on us as you pedaled past them,
leaving them for me,
in the season when you finally left me for them.
Today I found a pomegranate tree,
and remembered your map
that you never even showed me,
but I didn’t even need.
Peter J. Houle, MA is an 80s kid from Vermont, and has traveled a lot. He liked how Portuguese sounds and how Lisbon looks, so he unpacked his backpack there six years ago and even started planting seeds. Poems of his have appeared in Sandstorm Journal, In Parentheses, and in the Wingless Dreamer anthology The Book of Black. You can find him at the flea market selling things he finds on the street or makes himself. He likes cats, obviously.