From the Backseat

By Anne Neubauer

The almond orchard she passes
on the 101 extends for miles.
Uniformed rows of tightly packed trees
are buried at their base,
parched in crumbled soil.
Thousands of shrunken trunks,
grayed with twiggy winter branches
look whimsically reversed,
as if it’s their root ball atop
and someone’s playing a joke.

And these passing trees. . .
they are still—
still as a December cemetery,
and remind her of the vast graveyard
her dad would drive by
on their way to the city.
Short white-rowed tombstones
immersed in hilly lush lawns
fluttering by her window,
a flurry of oversized index cards
she tries to count.

Each is a fallen soldier her dad says.
She doesn’t believe him
and the child confidently claims
they’re oversized teeth,
polished white fossils
left by long ago giants.

Her glance for his reassurance
dissolves as his solemn face
turns the stones into real men,
and her own little body
into numb disbelief.

She doesn’t understand
dead men.
Men are strong and smart
and in charge.
This must be
an adult thing.
Something she’ll understand later.
But she’s 50 now
and still doesn’t.

Anne Neubauer is a writer and poet and has a deep love of literature. Her poetry is inspired by daily time spent in the quiet of the natural world near the Pacific Ocean in both northern and southern California. Also by this poet: "Twin Souls"