A native of the Balkans, Himalayas,
and Southwest China, with vast forests
even now in Kyrgyzstan, the Ancient
Greeks took the Persian walnut from Iran
and Iraq, bred it for size, and improved
the its fruit. From Greece,
as with all things, the Romans brought them
into Europe and north Africa.
Then the Regia turned English, and now
California produces two-thirds
of the world’s consumable walnuts.
More importantly, Carya chose the walnut
as a refuge from her Dionysian passion,
a hard wood with a rich fruit; we remembered
her as Artemis, and on the Acropolis
built her into a monument made of marble,
not wood, Caryatids keeping the porch
roof in the sky until now, a distant future.
The cherry, the plum, and the pear
have all blossomed and faded to foliage
but this walnut in the northwest corner
only has small green cones shot with brown
on the nubs of the twigs on its branches,
neither flower nor leaf, though dugouts
where the woodpeckers work and open branches
are many, from one of which a crow looks down
at me and scolds me for being such a slacker
on this warm spring Sunday afternoon.