Sweetest Fruit

The Sweetest Fruit

The galvanized bucket shifts,
half-full of Winesap and Mutsu
and the heat is golden. Sweat prickles.

Just out of reach of the ladder
a breeze plays through crossed branches,
stirs the sweetest fruit. And below,

the children stomp rotting apples

and scream their joy,

faces flecked with pulp and peel, red-fleshed.

P

Wear tennis shoes, I’d told them,

there are wasps in the windfalls.

P

But the youngesta child known

to plunge grimy hands into cake batter

craves the muck between his toes.

P

Needs to feel.

P

Little stinker. I spot his sandals,

cast off, scant and tumbled in the rows

P

two skinny red flags warning:

          there are tears ahead

P

And now he’s laughing

great gasping belly laughs,

toes burrowing into the sticky pomace,

heels grinding seeds into the rich earth,

the tart and tang of vinegar rising,

his feet a blur in the slant sunshine.

P

Even the wasps shoot away like sparks

to mind their business elsewhere

P

and I place one foot on a step that reads,

          Do not stand on or above this rung.

P

(This poem previously appeared in Shadow Road Quarterly, Summer 2012)

 P

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