VINCEN GREGORY Y. YU
The lemon tree makes a curious shape
in the way it bends to the sky: stooped,
slight dent along the delicate stem,
as if praying to heaven or asking
what shape the rain takes as it plummets
in a raging storm. To be old and still bear
fruit—yellow, flock of children navigating
an empty museum at daytime; sour,
the aftertaste of troubled marriages—
is quite enviable. It means the capacity
to create is still intact, like looking
beyond the window and asking the glass
what shape the moon takes at midnight,
hoping to imitate its spectral glow, the curve
where darkness meets the light.
This morning, the lemon tree travelled
one inch farther from its mound of earth,
but also, nearer to when it shall finally stop
trying to outgrow the rest of the garden—
the nonstop pendulum of bamboo stalks,
the roses blossoming in summer—
and learn to let go of the one perfect fruit
hanging from the one perfect branch,
the shape of sadness trapped in the bubble
of tears, when a father’s face has turned
away after his daughter’s wedding.
Tonight, the lemon tree stands content
with the geometry of its place—the triangle
of leaves moist with dewdrops, the parallel
branches bearing weight of the future fruit,
the shape of the unborn seed in its watery
womb, where even strangers tend to its needs,
and an old man’s need to see circles and squares
take the form of boisterous grandchildren,
like saplings breaking through the soil
for the first time.
After Larry Ypil.
Vincen Gregory Yu obtained his Doctor of Medicine from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital in 2016. His poems have appeared internationally in Pedestal Magazine, Stone Telling, Bacopa Literary Review, Popshot Magazine, and Diverse Voices Quarterly. He is also a theater reviewer for Philippine Daily Inquirer, and was a fellow for Fiction in the 56th Silliman University National Writers Workshop, the longest-running creative writing workshop in Asia.