Bush Lemons

Once there was a vineyard here
in green and ordered rows.
Now the bleaching grasses bend
and nothing fruitful grows

except a self-sown lemon tree
with leprous, aching boughs,
heavy with the bitter fruit
come of a daze of flowers.

Strange, ugly and unpromising fruit,
a crop of warted noses,
nothing you present to view
your secret good discloses,

how soaked and simmered long
with drifts of sugar stirred,
you foam and bubble and become
the robust marmalade preferred

by those who scorn the sweeter kind
and in your lucent depths behold
treasure of housewifely sort,
apotheosis, dross to gold.

Barbara Fisher

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