Bottling Peaches

  ‘Today’ my mother says, triumphant, ‘we are bottling peaches’.

When I ask why, my mother tells me that it is ‘our tradition’

As though I have bottled peaches before.

I have never bottled peaches before.

But my mother is a persistent woman

She opens the windows to let the fruity air escape into the afternoon

And then guides me with her cautious, calloused hands.


Halfway through I realize that when she said ‘our tradition’

She wasn’t talking to me.

My mother’s thoughts were far away

In the kitchen of a home long since cleared away

To make room for apartments.

She was bottling peaches with her mother,

Years before even the first chemo session.


I watch the trenches in my mother’s forehead smooth away.


My mother looks to the sky and smiles slightly, as if to say

‘Look at me! I have found a way to cheat both death and time’—

I don’t have the heart to tell her that I despise the taste

Of peaches. 

This poem is about: 
My family


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