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By Marsha De La O

Not rain, but fine mist

falls from my lemon tree,

a balm of droplets in green shadow.


Six years now my mother gone to earth.

This dew, light as footsteps of the dead.

She often walked out here, craned her neck,

considered the fruit, hundreds of globes

in their leathery hides, figuring on

custard and pudding, meringue and

hollandaise.


But her plans didn’t work out.


The tree goes on unceasingly—lemons fall

and fold into earth and begin again—

me, I come here as a salve against heat,

come to languish, to let the soft bursts—

essence of citrus, summer’s distillate—

drift into my face and settle. Water and gold

brew in the quiet deeps at the far end

of the season. Leaves swallow the body

of light and the breath of water brims over.


My hands cup each other the way hers did.


Marsha de la O, "Under the Lemon Tree" from Antidote For Night. Copyright © 2015 by Marsha de la O.  Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. .

Source: Antidote for Night (BOA Editions Ltd., 2015)

Poet Bio

Marsha de la O was born and raised in Southern California.  De la O is associated with the landscapes and cityscapes of Southern California, and her poetry is known for its nuanced observation and description of the region. A former bilingual schoolteacher in Los Angeles and the rural community of Santa Paula, de la O now lives in Ventura, California. With her husband, poet Phil Taggart, she publishes the poetry journal Askew.

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