Tree of Life, a Triptych
The tree, its branches laden
one of them propped with a forked
pole to support the weight of nectarines.
Rising from ice plant on the slope,
a mist of fruit flies.
in a pool of rotting fruit
quail devour the windfall.
A woman carries two baskets,
yellow ochre against the blue
of her denim skirt, her workshirt.
She is no angel,
that patch of white
her apron, not a wing,
her lips parted slightly as if
she is speaking to the tree
or to herself, asking
Does redemption come down
not to what we take but what we leave,
whether left or taken up ourselves?
Or maybe she is Ruth in the emptied field
or another widow wondering
what will become of her, taken up by law
by her husband’s brother:
even that marriage a kind of gleaning.