shot glass
"... brevity is the soul of wit ..."
- William Shakespeare

Deborah Bayer

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Smoke Trees and Mountain Ash

Because I never learned the names of flowering trees,
they all seem ornamental, with tiny hard fruit
that softens with the frost. Then the birds can eat.

Seeds scatter, form new plants bred to please the eye,
not for juice or sweetness. If a vine's not pruned
it begins to strangle the tree on which it climbs.

My grandma is a flapper, thin, with pale gray eyes,
different from my dark ones. In this tintype, I see her
in a stippled scarf tied around bobbed hair.

She holds an alto sax, never wants children.
Grandpa proposes after only weeks of courting.
She takes him to the porch swing under yellow lights.

The air drips with wisteria. Witch hazels in the distance
and wolf-eye trees nearby stare as she twists his arm,
then closely checks his skin for tell-tale blood lines.