The Old Apricot Tree – California

I remember thirty nine forty Maryland Road

where, upstairs,  I played my favorite record, “ Fire, fire, fire

put the fire out. Here come the firemen to put the fire out!”

The sweet scent of acacia trees filled my room.

“Thirty nine forty,” where on Sunday morning I’d wake up to Bing,

our canary singing with music coming from the living room,

“Rum and Coca-Cola,”  “Deep in the Heart of Texas,”

and “ Cement Mixer Put-Ti, Put-Ti.”

Where Mother Kitty, the homeless neighborhood cat,

wouldn’t let me get into my bed, we moved the newborn kittens

onto some old clothes in my closet, using an eyedropper

I fed the scrawny one.  In the backyard, Sweetheart my white swan,

floated in a galvanized washtub. He, or was it a she?  kept an eye out

for Bumpie our black cocker spaniel. Wearing a two piece sunsuit,

I was unselfconsciously happy, round and soft like the bunnies

in a wire cage beneath the gnarled apricot tree. I would climb that tree

to pick the sweetest fruit, the taste I have not been able to match.

I wonder if my grandchildren will ever know the taste of a tree ripened apricot

or feel the sticky juice dribble down their chin to land on their bare tummy

warmed by the sun. The Oakland Hills fire took the house, leaving our  brick

chimney standing alone except for a white cement front step. A tree is so solid,

so stable, that’s what puzzled me, the trees of my childhood were gone.

5 thoughts on “The Old Apricot Tree – California

  1. Your art and writing are equally powerful here, Carla.
    I remember standing in SF on Haight Street, watching a giant plume of gray smoke suck those houses and all their contents out to sea. My friend and I inhaled the smoky air and wondered what we were breathing– Toys? Antique furniture? Picasso? (Or apricot trees?) It must feel very sad and strange to have your childhood disappeared like that.


    • Thank you. A compliment from you means a lot to me. I haven’t been back there since just after the fire. Coincidentally I ended up driving from my grammar school following my walk home when I was in grammar school. It was a long steep hike! I was a little girl, no snow to make the story better 🙂 What was weird was the old retaining walls and scary tunnel was still there, but all the houses and gardens and trees were new, a kind of fairyland time zone kind of thing. My mind was in 1946 and my body was in 2012.


      • Thank you so much Carla. Music & art have been my “native language” all my life. I’m not much of a business person but I hope your wish comes true and I wish the same to you, with all my heart!


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