The Plum Tree

The plum tree outside our bedroom window
now appears dead.
It dropped its leaves,
sometime mid-November.
The grey marine layer hangs low over the stripped branches
as if attempting to push what life remains
back underground.

The homeless are restless this time of year.
They scavenge the bins in front of our house with fresh vigor
and drink with tireless savagery.
They sing louder, almost screaming,
mostly alone, to themselves.
They are both the miner and the canary together
in the dark shaft.

Tonight you and I
will worry our bed sheets into manacles again.
Asleep or awake, we wrestle
with what we hope for ourselves.
At daybreak we will turn
to face each other,
and do our best to leave those doubts,
to push them back into the darkness beneath our eyelids.

And yet the sunshine,
regardless of this wintry season,
will streak carelessly into the bedroom
when you crank open the curtains and proclaim the new day.
I will smile and drag myself to the shower,
the homeless man will curse to find he’s still alive,
and the plum tree will stand like a misfit
amidst the green grass and the bougainvillea in full bloom.