Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Mother Tree at the Luther Burbank Experimental Farm

This week, our assignment was to revise an existing poem.  I am working on editing my manuscript "There's Ghosts in this Machine of Air" and so I edited this poem.  It was originally called "Luther Burbank Experimental Farm" but I added in The Mother Tree.  The Experimental Gardens are a real place in Sebastopol that was for many years left untended.  But, in it's day, Luther Burbank would get visitors from all over the world.  This poem thinks about how something once so vital to the community has become almost forgotten over time.

The Mother Tree at the Luther Burbank Experimental Farm

In the late 1800s, Luther Burbank declared Sonoma County “nature’s chosen spot”
and sold the rights to the first Idaho potato to fund his journey out.

At his Experimental Farm, he solved problems—how to grow cactus without thorns;
how to grow apples year round.  He checked the pockets of every visitor
for fear one of his prized seeds might be carried away on something other than wind.

These days, there are less visitors.  But, Shasta daisies still greet with big toothy grins
as visitors walk the path past Burbank’s hybrid plants. Toward the back,
near Pleasant Hill Cemetery the mother tree looms full and large,
always bearing fruit, always bearing another graft or possibility.

Under brace, her branches are so full, they seem threatened even in a light rain.
Arms extending over the fence, as if guarding what is left
as if beckoning the ghosts back from the earth,
back from the fog as it burns off.

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