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Lemon Tree, by Jennifer Clement

November 10, 2010

I love this poem so much. I first read Lemon Tree in this book several years ago, but recently rediscovered the poem online. I love it just as much then as now (even after years of trying to remember that perfect poem about a lemon tree, thus building it up in my head). I just love the idea of finding stories in trees—maybe because I have a story in my head about that, and this poem immediately made me feel hopeful that it’ll be written someday. Hope you like it, too:

Lemon Tree

If you climb a lemon tree

feel the bark

under your knees and feet,

smell the white flowers,

rub the leaves

in your hands.


the tree is older than you are

and you might find stories

in its branches.

{Translated by Consuelo de Aerenlund}

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Allumer permalink
    November 10, 2010 1:47 am

    This poem reminded me of my sadly departed Meyer lemon tree. Lemon blossoms have a scent that is. . .indescribable. Transcendent.

    Also reminded about how much I do actually love trees, despite me thinking that they are ganging up on me in the woods.

    • November 10, 2010 1:51 am

      LOL who ever heard of campers being afraid of trees?! we are surely disturbed. they’re so pretty in the daytime. i have hugged trees, really, as a child and adult. but in the dark? lock the doors.

      i’ve never ever been near a lemon tree. now i must find one and sniff it. was yours growing in your yard?

      • Allumer permalink
        November 10, 2010 12:13 pm

        I think it’s too cold here to grow in the yard. The Captain bought it for me when I pregnant with the last one. THE LAST ONE. Isn’t it weird how after you become a mom everything is divided into “when I was still nursing, I had just had the baby, I was 6 months pregnant” etc.?

        And I loved that tree. But for some reason they always get weird bugs in our house and it got the life sucked out of it. I want to get another one just for the flowers. I mean, I liked lemons and everything, but the flowers – divine.

        Also, I think I’ve read the Goosegirl. Good stuff.

  2. Kaimalino permalink
    November 10, 2010 3:08 am

    Whoa, you guys. Too much “Wizard of Oz” creeping you out about sinister trees?
    Love the lemon tree– the smell is truly divine and goes right to my head. The sweet, sweet smell of the addictive SuperLemon candy (hold your hand over your heart for the beloved SuperLemon) is a pale, chemical imitation of The Real Lemon Tree Smell. Yes, transcendent.
    Have you read any of Shannon Hale’s books? They would definitely break your fiction ban, Maryam, but are worth it. “Book of a Thousand Days” is noteworthy and I think was a Newbery Honor book, but it’s her Books of Bayern (an accidental series) that makes me bring her up at all. “The Goose Girl” is the first one, and it’s delightful, a perfect fairy tale re-telling, but she keeps the stories going with each books being told from a different character’s perspective. I think there are four. In the most recent release, “Forest Born,” the main character is a girl struggling to find her way in city life after growing up in the forest. She discovers she can sort of “talk” to the trees and “see” what they have seen when she touches them. She can know some things just by standing on the forest earth, because the roots “speak” to her, but the stories are clearest when she is right next to the trees. She uses her gift to help track criminals, and she can keep the people in her group safe because she understands the forest and trees so well and finds them helpful and comforting, even when everyone else is unsettled and nervous to be out in the wild. Makes more sense when you read it. Pure adolescent fantasy, but a lot of fun and definitely a story of bonding with trees!

    • November 10, 2010 3:32 am

      whoa, those sound fascinating! very intrastring, as my daughter would say. my fiction ban has grown hazy. can’t really refuse to read fiction when i spend time writing it. i’ll check those books out. thanks 🙂

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