The Fifth Season


Bees have claimed the pear tree,
and now 

the backyard hums
as we examine what remains,

consider recovery.
My grandmother is at my heels, meshing

her feet into rotten pears, tempting
the bees with the soft edges

of exposed ankles.
Her mind more shadow

than flower blossom, she is becoming
the muddy door between winter and spring.

My father shakes his head,
rounds the tree again.

I await diagnosis,
begin to mourn

the hole that will form
if the tree comes down, but

my grandmother leans into me,
whispers—It’s not dead. Not yet.

Is it possible then—

that everything decays,
but not everything rots?

Later that day, I find her
in the garage

playing a piano that waits
to go into storage.

She has never learned how to play,
but here is the piano, singing

a song of her own design,
and now

she is humming.


Emily Stoddard's writing has appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, An Alphabet of Embers, Rust+Moth, New Poetry from the Midwest, Menacing Hedge, Hermeneutic Chaos, and elsewhere. She is an affiliate of the Amherst Writers & Artists Method and leads writing workshops online and in Michigan. More at