Father’s Day

My parents used to sit on the balcony
on Menorca in the mid-day heat
eating Spanish olives
and tossing the pits over.
We called it suntan lotion
and not sun block in those days,
and when we ran out we used olive oil,
coating our English arms with it
until they glistened
like plucked chicken wings.

Each afternoon my father made the same joke:
how years later a whole grove
of olive trees would spring up
below our rented rooms,
against the stucco and the wrought iron,
in the red dirt.

He was wrong, of course.
No trees grew,
nothing stayed:
not the smell of my mother’s oil paints
when she painted in the cove,
not the depressions we left on the sand.

What grew was this olive,
the one I draw from my mouth
long after my parents are gone.
This one, gray-green,
cured, no longer bitter.
This one,
purple-black, pitched,
its small flesh wrapping
an undegradable stone,
launched over the railing
among the goldfinches
in the Scots Pine.

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