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Tacey M. Atsitty

Tallahassee, FL

Every morning when I push aside

my bedroom curtain, I see green

bananas, their curved true stem weighs

down the tree’s neck. It hangs lower

than the day before, male flowers

begin brushing the shrubbery beneath

in light wind— I wonder if my neighbor 

Cooper even knows they’re ripe now. 

My other neighbor Chelle hacks down 

her entire tree when harvesting bananas. 

They only come in every few years, she says 

while stroking the bark. They’re sticky too.  

There are things you learn as a home-

owner in Florida coming from the West

deserts. Lemon trees, for instance, come 

like roses, heavy and thick with thorns.

My lemons are acting weird this year;

they’re not falling like they should be,

even when I take it at the branches, though

they’re full, plum-covered with dust—

A landscaper once said my lemon tree 

was planted too close to my driveway. 

Why did they plant your figs so close to the house

anyway? He went on and on about them.


Manny, who lives on the corner, 

told me about the man who once owned 

my house, how he shot & killed himself  

in my front yard. After a quick inhale, 

I said, My house and property have been blessed. 

And thanked him for waiting at least a year 

before telling me this. Maybe that’s why

the guy before me planted an entire garden

in the front yard. It looked funny, Chelle said.

But it grew really well. He planted everything,

she said, tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries.

One year the guy planted a small cornfield

and Chelle thought she saw a crop circle.

Manny told me about the other corner

man who swore aliens took over the body

of his brother, shaking him violently

until the paramedics arrived. About how

the now overgrown molded blue house 

once thrived as a makeshift café, where 

fishermen would bring their fresh catches

from Lake Jackson, just at the road’s end, 

to be fried up. There’d be cars parked 

all up and down Waterline; you couldn’t

hardly get into your driveway. And Miss Rita, 

boy, she was one heck of cook! She’d fry up

those fish & hushpuppies like it was nothing,

then boil up some grits & greens for your plate.

Course she had lots of practice being a carnie 

for all those years, after her parents gave her up,

half of her siblings too! That was during 

the Depression time. They could only afford 

to feed 7 of the 14 of them. The rest, well—

maybe it’s why she took in all those prostitutes,

didn’t want no one feeling left out, the way

she was all those years ago. Yeah,

those were some tough years, Manny said

before going on about the peach orchard

that once thrived where Coop’s house 

now sits—

                     where Coop’s banana tree overhangs

the fence into my yard, heavy with fruit. 


Tacey M. Atsitty, Diné (Navajo), is Tsénahabiłnii (Sleep Rock People) and born for Ta'neeszahnii (Tangle People. She is a recipient of the Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, the Corson-Browning Poetry Prize, Morning Star Creative Writing Award, and the Philip Freund Prize. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Brigham Young University and the Institute of American Indian Arts, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY, EPOCH, Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, New Poets of Native Nations,and other publications. Her first book is Rain Scald (University of New Mexico Press, 2018).

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