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I’ve lost the name for the tree
that dropped green pods in October.

I peeled the husks back easily
so by the book they weren’t black walnuts
though all the other indicators disagreed.

Who knows the name, can read its signature
in the leaf jag and bark runnels, knows
who brought them here by the side of a creek
that my grandfather’s mother knew?

Not only a word, but a rhythm, a pulse—
milkweed feathers whipped by a breeze
I’ve lost these.

Are you the one, the one called teacher,
who remembers the word—

Sounds like currant, or ravine.

Your thumbnails were stained black
as you shucked the fruit from its shell.


© David Ruekberg

Originally published in Yankee Magazine, October, 1998 (Jean Burden, ed.)

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