stems are coated with fine thorns. bark grows papery as it ages.

it was likely sometime surrounding 
the Winter holidays, though you are presently unsure. 
a time of year for gifts; ribbon of smile,
shudder of tear. your sadness was ripe, 
resplendent Winter fruit. It blossomed, 
aggregated fleshy drupelets.
not a wine berry though certainly close
kin to the blush of drink. you spoke to him, a friend, 
through blue sigh of cell phone.
he thought to ask you, 
“are you ok?”
even from the hollow of text message 
you knew his question was not benign.
and you, a man of cliched celebratory sadness
and ripe Winter fruit, not a berry 
but a cluster of drupelets,
were then not ok. Wavering 
on the faded edge of leaving.
He did not ask you to stay,
but you stayed. A sister 
of yours nearly did not stay and
you spent years after afraid
of a ringing phone. It is not now 
Winter, though maybe it is. The fruit 
is again ripening and you ask 
me to stay.

stay with your pain and stay 
with your sorrow. stay with torn roots, stay 
with the wither, stay with the blossom. stay
with who you are and stay with who you will someday be.
do not abide those who abuse you, and stay 
in the quiet of your querulous company 
when the abuser is you. do not grow wooden 
with the thorn that persists, as you parse 
through Winter vines and Summer stalks. trying 
to tend to ripening fruit.

Published by Zak

an intertidal island in an ocean of impermanence.

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