The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Jehanne Dubrow
Twelve years ago, I was the little girl
who watched her work. She cleaned my parentsí house,
cooked meals, took care of me. I learned from her
a soft language, each phrase sounding like hush
and the swishing shut of my bedroom door.
This time when we meet, phrases I used to speak,
easily as swallowing mint tea,
taste strange. The words are stale on my tongue and stick.
We stand beneath a farmerís tree to steal
his pears. Taller, I reach the higher boughs.
Small, smaller than I thought, she shakes the trunk.
We laugh as sweet, green fruits tumble down.
She shook me once like this. When I was five,
a butterscotch stuck sideways in my throat.
Her arms were strong from lifting pots of soup
and kneading dough and maybe I felt light,
the breath kept from my lungs. I was her sack
after the shops. Upended. Emptied out.
We must have both breathed then. Against the floor,
an amber candy glistened with my spit.
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