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Pear Tree

Somewhere in Harlem

a pear tree grows

its roots are old

its roots are bare

for our garden folk

that's no reason to despair

life like those roots

may appear austere

but that tree keeps growing

in answer to prayers for life anew

little Jamie's fallen down

can't pick him up again

Suzie wants a new dress

what can we do without next?

back in the garden that old tree

with little water little earth

wants awfully to keep giving birth

birth is life

life is hope

keep on with the pear babies

for all our folk

leaves blossoms birds and pears

we and our tree are going nowhere 


by Tonia J. Leon

Dedicated to the community gardeners of Central Harlem


Version of an ancient Nahuatl poem

My flowers will never come to an end

my songs will never cease

I, the singer, lift them, scatter them,

toss them in all directions.

Even when these flowers

wither and become yellow

they will be carried afar

to the hear of the Unknown House

where the golden feathered bird dwells.

Version from Spanish by Tonia J. Leon 

About the Author:

Tonia Judith Leon, Ph.D. is a bilingual poet and translator who has published poetry and prose in English and Spanish in journals, anthologies and newspapers here and abroad. Her chapbooks are My Beloved Chaos (2013) and Slow-Cooked Poetry/Poesía a fuego lento (2017). She has presented her poetry at festivals, fairs and readings in New York and Mexico. Among her passions are trees, social justice, the natural universe and Mexico. Tonia holds a doctorate in Latin American and Spanish Literature from NYU. She currently teaches Latin American Studies and bilingual education at CUNY and has been tending to a local community garden in Corona, Queens.


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Thursday, 17 June 2021
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