The Pear Tree by P. G. Karamesines

Listen to Patricia reading “The Pear Tree.”

When early autumn’s storm wrung from the clouds
Summer, wearing the last thundering rain thin
And sharp on the wind’s rasp; when thorns
Of the first frost bloomed over the grass,
And the morning glory hung brown and bitten
On the garden fence; on those first nights
Of cold window glass and the drip of chill
Onto the plank, when I wrapped in the blanket
And the dog curled at my feet, I heard,
Above the clay clink of wind-churned chimes,
Above the wag of the unlatched screen door,
Round blows of fruit fall against the ground.

I have been here three years’ windfall
Not hearing the bump of pears, but when the tree
Burst blossoms against the window, I watched
Crawl across the floor shadow from thousands
Of swaying cups lifted into the storm of pollens,
And when after petals leaves screwed from the nodes,
I looked out into green overcast: fruit had pushed
Off flower and bent down boughs as with old age,
But more mystic that blunt drop of fruit earthward
That jerked my ear like a new word.

Someone else should hear it: I could better tell
How, when the wind rattled its sticks upon the houses,
I heard a pear fall to a bruising; how it struck
Above the rip of water from passing cars’ tires;
How, as I let slip with sleep my garment of senses,
A tree caught the last thread and plucked it
With a ripe pear; and how I lay awake beneath rainy
Leaves or sat for spells by the window, as one haunts
Heaven those nights her globes bear down the branch
For a single star to fall away in flame.


“The Pear Tree” was the winner of the 1987 BYU Eisteddfod Crown Competition for a lyric poem.   It  was published in Irreantum 4.2 (2006): 99.


7 thoughts on “The Pear Tree by P. G. Karamesines”

  1. That is soo cool.
    It really does feel different to hear a poem as opposed to reading it. More of the original life is in there, I think.


  2. Thanks for reading/listening, Lora.

    Performing a poem for the mic alone, with no eye or ear contact with the audience, feels different from performing it live. Barre Toelken talks about this performer’s conundrum in his essay “The Pretty Language of Yellowman.” The Navajo storyteller Yellowman performed with great animation for his family members and friends, but his storytelling to Toelken’s recording equipment didn’t have as much life in it.

    I prefer a live audience–a real, living, breathing social context. In order to make this recording come out at all I forced my kids to sit through several practices and recording attempts. And I had to pay them in M &Ms.

    Oddly enough, my special needs daughter found the repeated practices highly stimulating. She began singing–producing sing-song sounds–and vocalizing more frequently over the next two days. This poem now produces spasms of excitement in her when she hears it.

    You never know.


  3. I suppose the best way to enjoy this would be me sitting in your kitchen listening while you sing it out to the kids…!


  4. Yes. And while you’re in there, would you mind washing a few dishes?

    Just don’t clink the plates. The mic will pick up that sound. 😉


  5. The wonderful thing about fruit trees is that they demand attention in a more seductive and yet overwhelming way than other trees. They want pruning (and sometimes grafting) and harvesting, etc. They exude abundance, the thought that this planet teems with life and life is a gift.

    Our little garden balcony can’t replicate quite the experience I had growing up, but it is so much better than the soggy, green expansive lawns and low-maintanence (and yet low pleasure providing) shrubbery that makes up the landscaping of our apartment complex.


  6. Yes Wm, fruit trees have enticed us into a long-running genetic entwinement, in some cases, like that of the pear, for a course thousands of years long. There’s something really cool about that.

    I like Andrew Marvell’s verses on the seductive qualities of fruit-bearing plants in “The Garden”:

    The Nectaren, and curious Peach,
    Into my hands themselves do reach;
    Stumbling on Melons, as I pass,
    Insnar’d with Flow’rs, I fall on Grass.


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