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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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My neighbor’s lemon tree might be

Even older than I am.

It took until this year

For its gnarled and gangly black limbs

To inch far enough from center to bend its crooked

Scabby elbows over the white fence

Into my back yard, one stray branch dangling

A few pendulous yellow lemons.


Unperturbed by March winds,

It grows without guidance or

Confinement. The fruit’s pebbly rind isn’t

Pretty or jewel-like.  To the contrary,

From neglect, some lemons are scarred

By rusty clots of fungus; others are

Infested with gnats that trap other insects

In sticky glop. Tough birds or vermin have

Peeled a few lemons down to their

White membranes. Clandestine

Webs intersect beneath the tree’s

Leaves and branches.


    In past years,

When the lemons grew beyond my reach,

The two matrons who used to occupy that house

Carried a brown bag to my door

Brimming with unsightly fruit,

A harvest we could taste, and a consensus we

Arrived at that they were as juicy sweet as oranges.


The other day I urged my husband to

Cut down the three or four ripe pieces

Overhanging our back lawn before a late

Winter storm brought down the bough, or

Before they rotted and fell to the ground.

But he was afraid our neighbor would

Think he was stealing.


     Then this morning,

I saw Rick, the present owner, snip off black mold

With good produce, tossing all of it into the garbage bin

Before I could inform him his lemons’ skin had grown

Too tough for bugs to invade, or how his particular

Lemons enhance just about every food, or that inedible

Lemons ground in the garbage disposal can

Perfume the entire kitchen, or that lemons rubbed

On the stovetop cut through grease, or that these

Special lemons have to be the best he would ever taste.

                                                    -Rhonda Greenstone

Fleur et fruit, Elana Chochkova