Pears, October 2015

This morning, sitting in a chair with my feet up on the bed, reading through some half-baked poems and some of the drafts--possibly--for poems, I came across a draft I jotted down On October 22.  I read it through, warily, keeping my trigger finger off the delete key. What does all this add up to? was the question that nagged at me, then when I got to the end, I thought, no, there may be something there, work on it--only the act of working on it may make it less interesting to me, less a record of a moment in October and more something laboured over, possibly spoiled. I have a small handful of poems like this, records of a few hours in October jottings. They need work,  I'm reluctant to touch them, and lose whatever bloom there is on them, for me, at least. So here it is, uncooked, typos included, as I wrote it down, quickly, not letting myself stop until I reached a point that felt like a stopping place:


On the road that descends io La Roque,

just past the cemetery and the three or four

parking spaces and a stone table and a map

of the cycling routes around the Mont Ventoux,

a pear tree grows up from the road that’s below

so thatits branches are at eye level

if you are walking on the road above

(because the village is nestled into a steep hill)

and in autumn the pear tree is loaded with pears

and even the ground underneath (one level down)

and it seems a shame to let all these fat pears

fall to the ground, so we knock on the door

of a nearby house, and ask if they belong

to the pears and if so, may we pick some?


But the lady says, no, they are not her pears,

they belong to—she points to a house further down—

the house where we stopped yesterday

to photograph the sign on the front porch

my dog runs 400 metres in ten seconds,

if you don’t run that fast, stay outside the front gate

and ring (in French)


so we go to that house, which is also below the level

of the main road (dirt, one way) into the village,

and we ring, and the dog comes racing round the corner,

and although the dog is a collie, when I hold out my hand

in my usual friendly, not easily intimidated manner

with strange dogs, it snarls and shows its teeth

and flashes its eyes, and I quickly withdraw my hand

and wait for the owner to open her front door,

which she does very soon, a nice-looking lady,

who is quite happy for us to pick some pears

off the ground and even off the tree.

Don’t you eat them? I ask her.

A few, she says, which could mean No,

adding, “They are winter pears, you know,

they stay hard, they’re only good for cooking.


So here I am, this morning, looking for a way

to escape my laptop, and I go to the fridge

on top of which I put the pears on a platter

with some of the black grapes from the yard

that the wasps are devouring faster than we can,

and I sort out the pears, the ones from the tree

and the blemished windfalls I now notice

are rotting. So I take out the kitchen knife,

the one with the black handle and the very

tarnished blade that has been in the house

probably for a hundred years at least, and

which looks like those black-handled knives

you find in almost every still life of Chardin’s

sitting slantwise across a table, hanging over the edge,

that are there to give the flat canvas a feeling

of depth,


and I quarter the pears (without peeling them)

and I carve out the bad parts, and I slice

them into pieces and put them in the new pot

from Ikea (me having burned all the old ones)

with some water and I set them to boil for lunch,

with or without added sugar, depending on

how sweet they are when they are soft,


and now I am back at my computer writing all this down,

because of the knife, because of the pears,

because of the sun shining through the plane tree

leaves that are turning yellow outside the window.