The Woman You Love Cuts Apples For You

The Woman You Love Cuts Apples for you

and stirs them in sea salt and vinegar
She takes a drag from her Silk Cut
eases again through the fruit’s flesh
the blade stopping short of her thumb
You are both sweating at the shoulder
(East Ham’s hottest summer) and you realize
these are not the times to come to poetry
You have everything you need
and your father’s bone-hard stare
can’t reach across the Atlantic
so you save yourself for another day
because there is this woman’s slicing apples
stirring them in vinegar and reminding you
of an afternoon twenty five years ago when
you knelt with your brother at your mother’s
feet to pluck apple slices from a small basin
pinched between her legs And one of you
would lift that bowl– almost completely empty
except for a sour clouded liquid
and a few seeds shifting at the bottom
You’d just taste it at first but soon your handing it
from brother to brother gulping lung-fulls
of that tart cider You’d sweat sniffle gasp chug
til your lips turned white and numb
and before you went out into those Jersey streets
you’d rinse your chin You’d soap your hands
because the girls would hold their breath
for every reason and stink on your fingers and neck
You won’t dare tell anyone you’ve learned
to love the taste of something so strange until this
woman cuts apples for you in vinegar
and the familiar fumes fill your nostrils and gullet
She will lift the bowl to drink She’ll twist her face
and laugh when she offers it and you will drink
and she will drink and you will drink again
She will kiss your cut knuckle She’ll kiss your eyes
Of course the vinegar stings
It’s the hottest summer ever in London
and you and the woman you love will fall asleep side by side
like this– reeking and unwashed–breathing in
each other’s dreams of open skin
— Patrick Rosal

Merry Christmas! For the rest of the week, I’ll be putting up poems that make me happy, in hopes of making you happy.


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