These trees aligned upon the eastern slope
extend arthritic arms towards the dawn
their blackened limbs bend painfully to catch
each warming ray, to dry the dew from webs
that wove their silver strands in birds’ nest hair.
Ten years ago I nearly cut them down
to make way — but make way for what? Too steep
for pickers now, who like more even ground,
where iron claws can take indecent grip
to shake the almonds off and half the leaves.
I thought the trees no good, they’d had their day,
but then the blossoms came, a few at first,
small vanities of age, quite shyly worn
unlike the bloom of youth’s fecundity.
Our orchard bears the promise of lush fruit,
the nubile pear and peach and cherry lips
in Spring, but these nine trees will case their gifts
in green, a cloak to hide their bitterness.
Their broken limbs a scratching post for kine,
reveal a cleft, for native bees a home,
whose oozing sweet abundance tempts a pair
of yellow honey eaters to enjoy
an amber feast warmed by the winter sun.
They also have their place upon the hill
to cheer the hearts of lovers down below,
who honeymoon in winter by the fire,
and kindle caves of passion in its flames.
The gardens waft their narcissistic scents
Of lavender for bees and jonquil bulbs,
germander blue and ornamental quince,
and overlooking all… these almond eyes.
When summer comes, a host of cockatoos
will flash their yellow tails and swoop and screech,
descending once again to ravage them,
yet they will survive. Bushfires burnt the farm
in ’59 but only charred their trunks.
I’ve grown to like their lovely uselessness;
their stand in face of failing life and age.