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Peter Pereira: Three Poems

Burning the Nests | Butterfly Bush | Perfect Pitch

Burning the Nests

Atop an orchard ladder my father
stands half-hidden by the black cherry's
tangled branches, holding a gasoline-soaked
rag wrapped on the end of a broomstick.
He flicks open his silver lighter, tells us
to stand back as the torch ignites
and he thrusts the burning thing up
where the white nets of caterpillars
tent the upper branch tips. A terrible
crackling like singed hair
fills the early April evening
as we squeal, and the smoldering
bits of caterpillars fall to the ground.
Weeks later we will eat the spicy
meat of the cherries, not even thinking
of this carnage. Or if we do, only
as the kind of work that fathers
will do, for their children.

Butterfly Bush

I used to love the buddleia,
its long purple trumpets in summer
buzzing with hummingbirds and butterflies,

until someone told me it was common,
invasive, a weed —

its withered flower cones
spilling armies of seedlings
to colonize the neighborhood.

Then I was embarrassed to have loved it.

I began to see its offspring sprouting
everywhere, hated how they rooted
between loose bricks, flourished
from cracks in the sidewalk.

So I cut mine back to nothing,
buried the broken stump —

only to find it returned
the next spring, multiplied.

And though I hated it
then, a part of me wanted it
to live. So I resolved to remove

the spent flowers, trim the branches.
Each autumn its size diminished,
and each spring an open

relaxed shape returning.
Its abundance held in check.

And now I love the buddleia
again as before,
but by second nature —
as one who returns to the garden
after the fall.

Perfect Pitch

"F . . . the oven is an F"
Samantha Foggle, age 3

Oh, to hear the world with such clarity.
Such surety. To know the note
of your breakfast chat is B flat minor.
That the '57 Chevy stalled outside the
garage is a D. To recognize the Apricot
kitchen paint for what it is: F-sharp.
To understand the way you feel for him is G,
definitely a G. And as you watch him
descend the scale of the front steps to his car
for work, the house quiets to an A.
The arpeggio of last night's Every
Good Boy Deserves Favor
still ringing in your ears.

Poet's Biography:
photo of Peter Pereira Peter Pereira is a family physician Seattle, a founding editor of Floating Bridge Press, and the ghost in the machine behind the blog The Virtual World. His poems have appeared in print journals such as Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, the anthology 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Everyday (ed. Billy Collins), and online at Switched-On Gutenburg, Caffeine Destiny, Dermanities, and Literary Salt, among others. His books include The Lost Twin (Grey Spider 2000), and Saying the World (Copper Canyon 2003) — which won the Hayden Carruth Award, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, the Triangle Publishing Award, and the PEN USA Award in Poetry. His next book is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press.

© 1999 - 2005, by the poets featured herein.