- First appeared in Origins Journal



The crepe myrtles are loaded:

That’s what my father would’ve said.

Only he’d be describing

cherry trees —

when their near-breaking boughs

begged pickers for relief.


Every July on our vacation

he craved the sweet, dark fruit

from his Macedonian childhood.

He’d stop at roadside stands

then spit the pits out the car window.

We called him Daddy Cherryseed,

figuring he’d planted half the orchards

in Grand Traverse County.


Sometimes, he’d cut the engine,

glide in neutral

down those Northern Michigan hills,

thrilling us: flatlanders who believed

the Buick was driving itself.

Four flip-flopped kids

squirmed in the backseat

and one scrunched between parents,

we sought a cottage on Great Lake sand.

Couldn’t wait to inflate the inner tube.

Dad sang with heavy accent, 

Everywhere we go, there’s a sign on the road:

‘No Vacancy.’


Those trees in The Cherry Capital

more red than green,

like the crepe myrtles here in Atlanta,

more flower than leaf—

yes, they’re loaded: drunk

on their own deep pink,

blazoning summer along roads and driveways.


In all their glory, Mother would’ve said,

their heavy arms bowing down.

- Karen Paul Holmes