by Adina Kopinsky
In October when the wind whirls
beneath my knees, I walk up the hill pushing
the baby’s heavy body towards the school bells
clanging like a birth announcement.
maybe the leaves have forgotten themselves,
let loose from the trees, convinced
their reddened cheeks are a sign of health.
Sometimes I pretend I’m the babysitter
imagining the door might open
to release me.
Hands will grow inside of mine
until plump palms groove away their dimples,
until they are old enough to let
the memory of me slip away
the wind-swept air forms a depression
on my shoulders; weighs my ribs
into my belly where my body
tells stories written in hieroglyphics,
stories that match my mother’s
though I never thought to ask her for the words
motherhood twists us
like pipe cleaners scrambled
in the craft drawer, bending
towards each other in a muddle of
crayola colors and glitter glue,
clasping hands in a pastiche of forgetfulness.
Apples slip out of their skin, slick beneath
the black paring knife,
When they liberated us, they averted their eyes.
They cried like small boys.
We stared at their tears — as foreign as the ocean —
salt water like karpas, like parsley and potatoes.
We didn’t know what tears felt like
buried so long inside our skin.
Bubbie sprinkles the apples with cinnamon and sugar.
I taste the slivers, tart and sweet mingling in my mouth.
They gave us bananas —
we bit right into the peel — yellow curves beckoning —
we ate the peel because it was the color of sun,
the color of hair ribbons,
the color of patent leather shoes in springtime.
She speaks softly,
hazy with telling and retelling,
cloaked in her mind like a half-peeled fruit.
We ate the peel and then some of us died —
all those years and we died from bananas, our insides revolting
against the softness.
I pass her flour, butter, salt.
She never moves from her seat, only her fingers
pull and stretch the dough,
cover the fruit like the speckling of brown skin
creased into the folds of her hands.
They couldn’t look away —
watching us eat the peels like gorillas in a zoo.
Watching us puke banana until we were as bare as our scalps,
as empty as our ribs,
as dark as our minds.
Her body, heavy: diabetes, cancer,
her skin softened, wrinkled, the numbers
curved to bananas tattooed on her forearm.
What were they supposed to do?
Boys — GIs with chewing gum and metal boots
swearing into cigarettes lit with trembling fingers,
turning away from our shelled bodies —
discarded peels —
The apple pie crumbles inside my mouth.