"Don't place your picnic table
under a pecan tree," goes the old
Cajun saying. Must be an Anglo
who planted this one next to my house
a hundred years ago. Pecan wood's
brittle, and when a hard rain soaks
limbs heavy with green pecans,
you never know when one will crack,
crash down on something-
last year my paid-for car,
totaled right in my driveway,
garlanded with boughs of greenery
like a float on Mardi Gras Day.

At daybreak after Hurricane Rita,
my yard looked like Birnam Wood
advancing: limbs and branches down
everywhere, a solid mass of green.
That's when the neighbors told me
that the lot across the street
used to have a clapboard house like mine,
crushed by a pecan tree.

Living with a pecan tree means
living with the ping, ping
of ripe pecans on corrugated tin,
the garage roof under continual shelling
when they're in season;
and the doorbell ringing,
hauling you out of a late-day nap
to some tattered old man with a grocery sack
wanting to pick your pecans.

Next time the house sells,
the buyer might have to chop the tree down
to get insurance on it-
that's what happened up the street.
There are women who will chop their breasts off
because they might get cancer,
and a woman who makes pro-and-con lists
about a deceitful lover
with a sweet tooth for pecan pralines.

Everything's coming into leaf this week
except the old pecan trees:
the Japanese magnolias raining down pink,
a light purple fuzz on the redbuds.
But the old pecans won't leaf
until the freeze danger's finally over,
and the local farmers trust them
because they have grown beyond hope.