The Lemon Tree in the Living Room
The heavy-duty plastic crackled
as I shifted my weight on the couch.
Straight ahead, in front of the window,
a fake lemon tree pretended to need the sun.
A soon to be ex-boyfriend snickered
when he saw it. I agreed with him
but hated his condescension. I wasn't up
for analysis but loved the living room for reading.
No one else went in there.
My book, my legs stretched out,
three tangerines, my pit filled napkin
crumpled on the glass cocktail table
peopled with china milkmaids and adoring
suitors playing the lute. My lap of luxury.
Rose didn't mind as long as I cleaned up.
I broke only one maiden.
Early on I stumbled through
Sense and Sensibility, never
understanding the title or the prose.
It didn't matter. I left my own milieu
of squabbles and boyfriend troubles
misunderstandings and misery--
many of my own making--
for a world of gentle men and women ardent feelings
dotty aunts silly sisters the rare rapscallion
garden landscapes monkey tree
country rambles brambles and not so gentle
persuasion. Sometimes I ate dried figs and walnuts
especially when I read The (assigned tenth grade) Odyssey.
Hard candy root beer barrels soft peppermint drops
jelly filled pastels Rose kept in a green glass dish.
All the mothers did. Recently I filled a vintage teacup
with wrapped candies. My grown son asked what for
and I told him I'm trying to recreate the past.
Okay, he said, just don't touch my room.
Karen Mandell has lived in the Northeast for many years, but she's a Midwest native at heart. She's written Clicking, interconnected short stories, and Tumbling Down, a novel. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in various literary magazines.