Genine Lentine


Black plastic
raised letters
proclaimed it
and so I began
to bend the un-
relenting spine.
First nothing,
then a little give,
heat at the seam,
at the faultline.
Half an hour
at his mirror, I
worked at it.  
I worked it away
from me and
back. I worked
at the word
until the word,
until the atom
of its lie split,
until the word
broke in my hands.



When did you start making pears?

What is a pear?

(She runs her fingers over one
hanging on the branch.)

Mmm. Yes. It began
before I could be seen,
when the great body rang,
striking, for the first time, the earth.
Over the long day, it lay in the sun,
and the birds came, and the flesh
fell away until all that was left
was the seed. Maybe it was
when the moon swelled
the seed, maybe
when the first true
leaf quickened.

Did you always know you would make pears?

I wouldn’t know how not to.

What is your process?

I let the leaves
come to the branch
and when the bee is at the
blossom, I listen.

Is dormancy difficult?


A period when nothing happens.

(The tree pauses.)
I’ve never had one.

What about drought?

I spread my root hairs and wait.

Do you ever doubt?

When the bud breaks the green wood.

Do you ever think of making apples?

What is an apple?

Could you describe the kind of pears you make?

    (A ripe pear drops into her upturned hands.)



Comma, tongue
flick, drawn into
the white between
two phrases. Slow,
deliberate, delicate
graphite whisper,
you mark my page,
you urge my legs
open. Swim of the
head, the mouth
come to rest, caesura,
tip of the tuning
fork, crura humming,
vocal folds’ taut bands
universe, pause.


Comma, hand
at my shoulder
always coaxing me back
from headlong, if I could
learn your repose,
drop a plumb line into now,
I could live forever, or rather,
not mind if I didn’t.
Crossing 6th Avenue,
I felt for the first time
my foot declining
from curb to street,
my footfall on blacktop
sounding the bedrock below,
and a cab hauled past,  sun
veering off the window.  


In the bulldozed field
I hurried over red
clay in clumps, upturned
trunks, roots wrenched and
dried. And Stranger,
with your pulse of gold,
as always, you walked
two beats behind.
I leaned into my haste,
feet faltering
the altered terrain. 
and then your touch,
and your voice: 
Slow down some.
I bristled, then released
my momentum back,
and for a moment settled
there, here
in the curve of your palm,
and in front of me
where I was
         sheer drop
         of empty space




MY FATHER'S COMB: I'm really interested in moments when children become aware of language as a thing in itself, when its transparency gives way. Have a metalinguistic memory you'd like to share? If so, please send it to me via email (see bios page for email link). Meanwhile, here are some splendid combs across time: [one] [two] [three] [four].


INTERVIEW WITH THE PEAR TREE: This poem began as an essay and one morning I woke up and it had configured itself into a conversation.


,: A friend read this and said, "Oh it's an apostrophe to the comma." I loved that.