Catherine Staples

The January Pear

Yes, but you gave me the Asian pear when least
I expected it, a subtle fattening on the espalier

amid the shorn antlers of the bare bough. Winter light,
an odd nurse for a thriving bole. Some trick of shadow

hid it, that or the long grey days without a horse.
Somehow I missed its beginning. Birchbark, kindling

stared back in flame and woodsmoke singed my hair.
All the while under sun and moon the pear grew through

‘til March, size of a plum stone—the deer passed by
and even the squirrels, those thieves, let it be—

each morning its presence belled the quiet and I knew
you were there, thin as a handkerchief in a hip pocket,

whistlely as a wren with instructions. No, it wasn’t
just your voice in my ear, its distinct nasal cadence,

but the tangible pear. And even now that it’s gone on,
and the tree on which it grew is burning with bloom,

I have only to look out the window to see you.
In the habit of looking, the shape lives: the orb

from which the wren flew is now a white fist
of six blooms, each stamen tipped in violet

before they pencil to dark points, love redeemed
in the place where the pear appeared, ochre and green.

Catherine Staples is the author of The Rattling Window (Ashland Poetry Press, 2013) winner of the McGovern Prize. Her poems appeared in Prairie Schooner, Southern Review, Commonweal, Blackbird, Third Coast, 32 Poems, and Quarterly West among others. Honors include Honorable Mention for NEPC’s 2014 Shelia Margaret Motton Book Award, finalist for the 2014 Eric Hoffer Award, a Walter F. Dakin fellowship from the Sewanee Writer’s Conference, and Southern Poetry Review’s 2011 Guy Owen Prize. She lives with her family in Devon, PA and teaches in the Honors program and English Department at Villanova University.