Mary Beth Hines: “Japanese Maple”


Hands pressed to the screen door, alone,
I peer into the August downpour. Scarlet leaves
sway on the Japanese Maple that arose
in this yard decades ago, unbidden yet received,
prized, rescued over and over by my mother,
up and out before sunrise to pluck beetles
from tender blades. She crushed their lustrous collars,
penny bright backs between her fingers, unreeled
the hose, blasted swelling aphids with cold
water, teaching us to love a being, to choose
might mean to ruin another, and so we rose
to cull alongside her, flung hungry bodies into
soapy pails. And now—this thriving tree, drenching blast—
my own face dry, the time for crying, choosing, long past.

Mary Beth Hines has had poems appear in Delmarva Review, Lily Poetry Review, SWWIM, Tar River Poetry, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Kelsay Books published her first collection, Winter at a Summer House, in 2021.

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