Women Pruning Pear Trees

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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.