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  Guttural Sounds (Prose & Poetry)
some things just don't (2002)

Someone showed me a photograph
of lustrous green apples on the vine, lush and lupine;
shiny as your patent shoes were on the first day of school.

I admired them plenty, but then,
then she told me "They're beautiful, I know,
but there are worms inside them. You can't eat them,
they only look beautiful.

"Inside," she said," they're rotten."

So I admired them all the more, thinking
how so that was, how rotten fruit
often looks so shiny and appealing, but we only
discover its terrible insides once we've a mealy mouth full of worms.

And then I admired them more, thinking
that metaphor is easiest for me to swallow
when it's green and growing.

I've been tending some tomato plants.
Daily, I water. Daily, I stroke the leaves
and turn the soil and let them sun
all day like lazy children will play when it's summer.

One bore glorious globes
of yellow-then-green-then-red and I fed
them one by one to my dog,
who catches them with an expertise that both
amazes and amuses.
We sliced them open, shared
the bits we each liked best: me, the crispy
outer skin and she, the liquid viscera full of seedy slush.

Still in late August, new spheres erupt
in droves, dangling on the vines like christmas ornaments;
crowded in some places when one couldn't pick
one branch or another, so they clatter together, the largest
hedging the others out.

Another plant grew even taller than the first.
I gave up trying to keep enough spikes in it to
attend to its altitude, and its vines spread
over the other plants, curling arms enfolding them all from
wind and rain and the occasional errant squirrel.

It sprouted yellow blossoms in a firework frenzy.

I watched and I waited for each to produce the small translucent
buds that meant lush yellow-then-green-then-red in time.
I watched and I waited and each blossom simply crumbled,
and some leaves just curled up on the vine.

I watered more, I waited more.
I talked softly and sweetly and
let it hog the sunlight from its smaller
but more productive cousins. I
turned the fresh compost, sparkling with mineral
and laid it on top, pressing gently to give it
moremoremoremore of everything it wanted.

But -- nothing.

"Some things," I hear some phantom grandmother I never had say,
"Some things, no matter how much you tend them,
and how much you give to them,
and how much you care and want and wait and wonder,"
she'd say.

"Some things
just don't bear fruit. That's just the way it is.
Don't mean they ain't worth growing."
That's what she'd say.

There are these petunias I've barely cared for
who are opening wild and wide their little gobs
and blinkety-blinking their pretty purple eyes.
They do so easily.

There are a forest of hot peppers that blister red heat
with fertile fervor
I've hardly said hello to.

There are things I've done with success, with ease and confidence
I tried no harder at than I try breathing
in and out, in every single moment without thought
or intent. There are times
I've borne the most luscious fruit in the driest of climates
with barely enough air to breathe at all.

There are other things,
things I have worked at until I've rubbed bone raw
and calloused my heart for.
I've scooped my insides out in bright pink handfuls
to feed some things my organs with shiny silver spoons.

There are things I've limped lame, uphill,
backwards and blindly
to posess or create, for which I fertilized soil
with the blood of my own unborn children:
laid out every
personal tragedy unearthed to satiate.
Things for which no amount of toiling
or tenderness, feeding or famine
ever bore fruit. And perhaps, never will.

And perhaps, maybe, probably -- that's okay.

Because some things, some things,
some grandmother would tell you,
just don't bear fruit.

Some is beautiful but rotten, and some
comes easy as summer and breathing, and some
fruit smells like death warmed over but is
heaven on the tongue, and some isn't yours for having
but you swipe it anyway, but some,
just don't bear fruit. That's just the way it is.

Don't mean they ain't worth growing.

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