The Ficus

He bought me in Laguna Beach where
I’d been properly raised from a seed and grown
content to stay in a house that was much too dark
and lacked any views to speak of, though
I was pleased by the ceiling I could touch
if I chose. What man attends to a tree’s
forebodings? He should have stayed put,
but he thought he needed new friends, new
lovers, and moved in search of them
to a cramped cottage parked on a hill
overlooking the seedy orange glow of Silver
Lake. Shoved indecorously into a morose
corner of the dining room, I did as I pleased.
Out of spite, I dropped all my leaves

and almost died. At more than one party,
drinks were drained, cigarettes snuffed out
in my pot soil. I bore the affront like a stoic.
As trees measure time, only a trickle or two
of sap had passed before one afternoon
I heard weeping on his bed. For days,
he abandoned me without the least
concern for my fate. In a pique, I plopped
all my leaves on his floor and cared
not the least when he walked through his door
with one arm less. He never bothered
to sweep. I was sure he had sold me cheap
to the cottage’s new owner when he moved
back south to Laguna. But, like a saint,

he forgave me my sins and gave me back
my corner. I decided to thrive even as he
grew thin, lost hair, coughed up gobs of red
phlegm. But when he cursed God for all
his misery and swore great oaths defying
heaven, I shed my leaves in shock onto
the decorative prayer rug that was still
littered with them when Ricardo found him
in a pool of blood. If I’d known his distress,
I’d have made less of a mess. But goodness
itself, Ricardo took me into his home anyway,
setting me up on Catalina’s better stretch,
where the light is right and the view, well,
the view is wide and almost satisfactory.

number 22 in the 2River Chapbook Series