Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
  • Home
  • About
  • Archive
  • Bio Notes
  • Bookshelf
  • Contents
  • Submit
SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Ode to the Apricot Tree on 9th Street, Durango, Colorado

by Janlori Goldman

When I think about apricots I think about the tree
	behind my brother’s house and his dog Dewey,
		who once ate a disposable razor left on the tub’s rim,

chewed it bit to slicing bit, cut his innards
	and made him yowl. The vet bundled him up,
		said to my brother, wait here.

And until my brother married the vet,
	he and Dewey lived in that old house
		with the apricot in the yard. It reached across the lawn,

teased the fence with its arthritic limbs.
	Likely planted by a miner’s wife who canned fruit,
		who in late summer put up jars and jars of orange orbs,

who knew that when snow rose to the roof line,
	she’d pop those lids, spoon out syrupy fruit.
		To Dewey, when those fuzzy apricots fell to the ground,

when their tender bodies let go of the stem,
	when multitudes dropped to rot, the smell of juicy ooze
		yanked that dog out the back door, a canine blaze,

ravenous and unhinged, inhaling fallen fruit,
	bloated and ill for days. My brother and I drove by
		that house on 9th Street, decades after Dewey,

years after we realized a promise is for the moment
	even if we vow forever, after our father died without a sorry
		though he had weeks of dying—we peered through

to the backyard, to a profusion of fruit, and I wondered
	if the tree would soon be picked, worried about how ripeness
		can be overlooked, how a thing in its prime can be left to spoil.


—Honorable Mention, the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize 2017; first published in the San Diego Poetry Annual 2017-18 (Garden Oak Press, February 2018) and appears here with permissions from the publisher and the poet


SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Janlori Goldman

is a poet, lawyer, and teacher whose first full-length collection of poetry, Bread from a Stranger’s Oven, was awarded the White Pine Press Poetry Prize in 2017. Toadlily Press published her chapbook, Akhmatova’s Egg, in 2013, and Gerald Stern chose her poem “At the Cubbyhole Bar” for the Raynes Prize. In 2011, her book manuscript, Rough Comfort, was a finalist for the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry from California State University, Fresno, and the Alice James Kinreth Gensler Award.

Her poems have appeared in Calyx, Connotation Press, Contrary, Four and Twenty, Gertrude Press, Mudlark, Rattle, Storyscape Journal, The Cortland Review, The Mom Egg, and The Sow’s Ear. She is a founding co-editor of The Wide Shore: A Journal of Women’s Poetry, and she co-edited For the Crown of Your Heads: Poems for Haiti to raise money for the rebuilding of a library destroyed in the recent earthquake.

For many years Goldman worked as a civil rights advocate, specializing in privacy and health. Recently, she has taught at Columbia University in the School of Public Health, the Narrative Medicine Program, and the law school. She also volunteers as a writing mentor at Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Cancer Center and hosts the Huge Shoes Poetry Salon.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury