Artwork by Izzy Dignum

I suddenly remember that last year my father

planted three saplings in his garden, each one

standing for one of his three sons, and I fly

outside into the evening rain to take them in

and wonder which one was meant to be me.

A walnut, pear, and plum, all far too young

for fruit. If they swapped places in the dark

I would never notice. Two perhaps too close

for non-obstructive growth, the third shunted

to a corner like a timed-out toddler, head held

high still—and rising, even, at the speed of age.

Every promise is a plant. Yes, that also works

the other way around. Everything promised

grows, and outward, and eats the air and eats

the air. I promise that one day after everyone

is dead I’ll bring my father home to his trees

and hoist him up, my hands clapped cold and

fast to his forgotten knees, and he will globe

his arms and gather every fruit and nut, catch

each one in his open, waiting, oceanic shirt,

and, leaving behind a trail of fat green tears,

glossy knots, and purple eyes, we’ll steal

through my childhood streets in the night

and the wind and with my father swaying

on my shoulders like a star’s slow flame.