Women Pruning Pear Trees

When someone in the grief group shared,
Some mornings, I don’t get out of bed,
or I hate my body; I wonder if my husband
will leave me; I don’t know my purpose in life;

I listened. Both hands in my lap, left
on top of right, palms up. I read aloud
newly written poems about autumn rain,
apple pie, walking my dog Shana.

At the end of the eight-week session,
Jan invited us to her house to prune
pear trees. It was February, snow possible,
the weather perfect for cultivating hardiness.

She laid the tools on the ground: secateurs, loppers,
saws, pole pruners. We thinned out weak-crossing
branches, keeping the ones with the least angle at their origins.
Avoided cutting fruit spurs, removed water spores.

We took the dead and damaged limbs,
knowing the unsung trees might not fruit that year,
but with our work they might the next. Inside,
there was lentil soup and warm bread, a long table.

We hung our coats and sat down, joking
about who worked the hardest. I rubbed my cold hands
together. On my wrist, a small scratch flared.
My arms ached from reaching toward the canopy.

Eleanor Kedney

Eleanor Kedney

Eleanor Kedney is the author of Between the Earth and Sky (C&R Press, 2020), a finalist for the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and the 2020 Best Book Awards. She is also the author of the chapbook The Offering (Liquid Light Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in journals, magazines, and anthologies. She is the recipient of the 2019 riverSedge Poetry Prize (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) and a finalist in the 2020 Mslexia Poetry Competition. Kedney is the founder of the Tucson branch of the New York-based Writers Studio and served as the director for ten years. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, and Stonington, Connecticut, with her husband, Peter Schaffer, their dog, Fred, and their cat, Ivy. Learn more at eleanorkedney.com.
Eleanor Kedney

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Author: Eleanor Kedney

Eleanor Kedney is the author of Between the Earth and Sky (C&R Press, 2020), a finalist for the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and the 2020 Best Book Awards. She is also the author of the chapbook The Offering (Liquid Light Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in journals, magazines, and anthologies. She is the recipient of the 2019 riverSedge Poetry Prize (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) and a finalist in the 2020 Mslexia Poetry Competition. Kedney is the founder of the Tucson branch of the New York-based Writers Studio and served as the director for ten years. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, and Stonington, Connecticut, with her husband, Peter Schaffer, their dog, Fred, and their cat, Ivy. Learn more at eleanorkedney.com.