ARIZONA SENIOR POET LAUREATE
Carrie Backe

LEAVING THE ORCHARD

You canít see the tree stumps,
But you know that they are there.
The tractor canít get close enough
To mow, and grasses grow tall
Around them,
Neglected,
Like an old manís whiskers.

We used to help them pick the cherries,
As friends, for fun.
After the shaker moved on,
We picked them by hand
As far as we could reach,
And dropped them into
Battered tin pails.
I think the birds ate the rest.

They are moving into a cottage
Near the nursing home.

Now she is sitting at a card table
Outside the kitchen door.
Collecting coins in a cigar box
For odd dishes, stained wooden spoons,
Musty books and
Softened sheets.

He sits outside his barn
Selling his tools, his equipment,
His life.
They have all turned the same rusty gray
As the walls.
I say hello.
I can tell by his reply
That he doesnít remember me.
I notice that his whiskers
Need a shave.

Carrie Backe, 68, is a returning Senior Poets Laureate award winner; she also won in 2008 and 2009. Now retired, she enjoys traveling by motor home with her husband; when not on the road, they live in Payson. They have five children and ten grandchildren. Carrie has been a Spanish teacher, textbook editor and proprietor of a used book store. Now she is a poet. Her sign is Aquarius