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In the years before my brother and I were born,

my father bought a mandarin lime tree,

planting it just outside our front door.

By the time I noticed, it had already grown

odd, twisted and dense, its trunk;

bright orange and sour, its fruit.

In summer we would pick

the soft orange globes and squeeze them

into lime-aid.

This sour concoction we doused heavily

with heaping spoonfuls of sugar and ice. In winter,

the tree stood dormant, its bark a greenish brown

that always reminded me of a snake.

Odd considering that my mother once found

a three foot snake come up out of a hole in the ground

right at the tree's root.

Once -- but never again,

though my brother and I hoped to catch

it and charge our friends a nickel

apiece to hold its writhing body.

All these years later, my father dead

my mother, too,

I have no idea if the tree still stands

However, in my memory it bears this bittersweet fruit.

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David Holper

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