About a Lemon Tree By Masfi Khan

About a Lemon Tree

Remember: summer days when we were eight,
the evening sky stretching above our heads
like a rubber band ready to fling pebbles.
You’d swing, legs reaching
the highest branch of the lemon tree,
its fruits as yellow as the noon sun.
You sucked on whole lemons,
skin and juice and seeds, tongue
not coiling away from their bitterness.
Your face glimmered with the sunset’s red
as you laughed at my puckered mouth.

Remember: us, seventeen, leaning against the lemon tree,
then sagging with age.
That summer, your hands turned into moths lusting light
and you forgot how to wear them.
We passed time folding paper into planes.
Every time they flew,
you told me about your longing for someplace
with cotton candy clouds and everything in pastel,
in sweetness. Once you called yourself
the lemon tree: hollow with limbs breaking,
bark peeling to reveal decaying matter.
Droughts hit, and roots can tie you down
for only so long before shrinking.

Remember: your marble eyes memorizing
the lake’s water, still as a gun
and waiting to swallow.
You knew the water would fill up the
space where you’d make a dent,
holding you like a seed in the pit of a fruit.
One jump and a quick explosion.
One jump and you’d never
weave your fingers through mine as I’d tell you
I love you, one sister to another.
One jump and no more need to breathe.

Remember: you, numb and still and blue and wet,
being lifted from the lake like a soldier from a city’s ruins.
I clutched your hand, wishing there was
a pulse to cry to. If you wanted, I would’ve stitched
where your body split open like an ocean
and sewed it with my own skin.
Dusk set in as a flock of birds
cawed for you and left in a chevron flight.
A week later, we chopped the lemon tree.

Imagine: you come back and
plant another.


Masfi Khan is a high school student in Queens, New York. She is a current prose reader for Glass Kite Anthology. When not writing, she enjoys baking and admiring nature.


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