The Accidental Pull

by Iris Jamahl Dunkle

Nathaniel Griffith brought Luther Burbank to his orchard
on the flat marshland of the Laguna.  From his home the trees
spelled across the wide expanse in straight rows.
Already, they were good servants—yielding
a ton of fruit each.  But the season was
short.  Burbank had ideas for winter fruits:
the Winterstein, still bittersweet tasting,
but with tougher skin to withstand the frosts.

The three girls could see the men on the porch
as they sat in the skirt of soft grass surrounding
the willow.  Spring had covered the grass
between rows of apple trees in yellow
mustard.  They made a game of following
the strokes of color—the low freckle of mustard,
the high powdery acacia, to the solitary exclamations of
yellow iris crowning the front yard.  Years
later, after Burbank's experimental
trees had failed, after their father had died
and the green wooden farmhouse had burned down,

they would remember this inventory:
how that day the golden lines had burned in
them a tether to this land.  And each day
after they would try to pull themselves back.

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