In the years before my brother and I were born,
my father bought a mandarin lime tree,
planting it just outside our front door.
By the time I noticed, it had already grown
odd, twisted and dense, its trunk;
bright orange and sour, its fruit.
In summer we would pick
the soft orange globes and squeeze them
This sour concoction we doused heavily
with heaping spoonfuls of sugar and ice. In winter,
the tree stood dormant, its bark a greenish brown
that always reminded me of a snake.
Odd considering that my mother once found
a three foot snake come up out of a hole in the ground
right at the tree's root.
Once -- but never again,
though my brother and I hoped to catch
it and charge our friends a nickel
apiece to hold its writhing body.
All these years later, my father dead
my mother, too,
I have no idea if the tree still stands
However, in my memory it bears this bittersweet fruit.