Old Man

detail of painting on wool flannel


I saw an old man pruning his apricot tree.

He had a holster for tools and wore a mask to guard from the heavy pollen and dust.

The pony tail down his back seemed a prize hard won; brittle and incongruous.

He knew tools. The pruning shears so well wrought I could feel the weight.

Blonde, dirtied calfskin gloves an honest extension of the weary skin.

That apricot had definite age on it. The man moved very slowly in his dance with the tree.

Waiting for the particular call to quietly relieve a branch or two; not without poignance.

The tree held a sacred, studied shape born of restraint and sureness.

This man grows dahlias too..giant poms reaching 6 feet above ridiculous pottery containers.

But who am I to judge? He surely knows the language while I do not.

But I appreciate, by golly.

I see him there saving those few strands of hair beneath the weathered camo cap.

He knows stuff I don’t.

A scholar in the library of his yard. Elsewhere too I am sure.

Tending that old tree with the recipes in his old New Mexican archive.

I want to make him cookies.

Likely a smile is all he’ll receive.

I’ll roll by sometime and tell him his dahlias make me happy.

Tell him the story of Emma, maybe.

Age and illness breed isolation and I know a bit about that.

Such a distance to bridge between us all.


7 Responses to “Old Man”

  1. ellen fox on August 11th, 2015


  2. gerry harty on August 11th, 2015

    anyone who grows dahlias is a very special person…trust me…I love this post Cathy…your observations of human nature is right on!!! He’ll love the story of Emma…xoxo

  3. Bree on August 11th, 2015

    I just love you so much!

  4. Alexandra Eldridge on August 12th, 2015

    You write more and more poignantly. Thanks for seeing so poetically. x

  5. KK Wilder on August 13th, 2015

    Like Alexandra’s phrase, “…seeing so poetically.”

  6. Jim on August 15th, 2015

    Tool Girl, You could get his attention by telling him you need to borrow his pruning shears because you are making cookies . . . just sayin’ . . .

  7. Jenny on August 15th, 2015

    Yep Cathy this is good advice, also about dahlias -splendid, and can you please post the cookie recipe?

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