Karen Paul Holmes

If You Plant a Bradford Pear 

Plant five in a line
along a road in Georgia
against a February sky
with clouds melding into light-

clusters of white flowers
will foretell spring, petals will fall
instead of snow. 

Plant them against an October blue,
a chest-gripping blue, near where
the black-silver river brews rocks. 

Where—like these trees 
on the shortcut to Canton—
they’ll present autumn’s gamut:

four Bradfords variegated
green, purple, bronze-red. 
The fifth, a crimson upturned heart. 

Every season they will sway
psalms for you, keep you mindful 
of your four siblings
who stood by you in your blaze. 


Karen Paul Holmes has a full-length poetry collection, Untying the Knot (Aldrich Press, 2014). Other work has appeared in Poetry East, Atlanta Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and the Southern Poetry Anthology Vol 5: Georgia (Texas Review Press). To support fellow writers, Holmes originated and hosts a critique group in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She teaches writing workshops in various venues including the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina.


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