When you whisper pear-
shaped into her ear
what do you mean?
Spliced open on the cutting
board, halved then quartered, with
flies buzzing in & around scenting
sweetness, good juice, round orb
reduced to severed parts, you toss
out the core straight into the trash.
Sections go easier into the mouth.
Do you notice the difference? Asian
pear to Bartlett to Bosc?
A river flows into rows,
trenches of water, feeding the tangled
roots of pear trees being plucked
in the far field.
When My Mother Returns as “X”
She multiplies herself to be every single
living thing: a cloud of butterflies; six calves
grazing in the field beyond the pine; grass
bending to the wind’s steady pressure. She’s
a swarm of bees seeking the dust of golden pollen
hidden in the cups of poppies. When my mother
returns, she is an “X”—marks the spot where she
made me, the hand that never fed me,
imprints my DNA a second time. When my
mother returns, she’s a white moon tipped
over, brimming with milk for a body that’s
not there. When my mother returns, she
multiplies herself to be every form: the breeze
lifting the white curtain; a pink silver-edged cloud
expanding; the night coming on.
When my mother returns, she’s the sweet-bitter
in my mouth I can’t dilute; she swells inside
my throat; she’s the thorny branch from which
birds never fly.
In the bathroom of the motel, dull lights flicker on the mirror, making shadow-play on your face. You’ve paid for the room for three nights, enough time, you think, to undo something you can’t quite name. Soapy suds take the grease from your fingertips; the fries you ate slipping further along twisted tunnels to fill your stomach. The sound of the television: on mute. The silence you’ve made to block it all out. You were once seventeen (a late bloomer) holding hands on a big blue trampoline under a summer-starry-sky. He was older, wiser, kissing you with some knowledge, leaning into your round-moon body, ready for that first time that can only ever happen once. (The sound of flesh slapping surprised you.) Now, run the water for the hottest bath possible without searing your skin. What did you tell yourself in the doctor’s office looking at a small screen of light pixels? Life was a bright round splotch flickering on the monitor. The movie is still playing. You slip back into water; hiding from the blood coming & clotting. Drink a tall glass of water—or, wait, is it “He was a tall glass of water”? It is only a tiny white pill dissolving under your tongue that fixes. Crickets trill outside. You left the bathroom window slightly open, just enough, but not too much.
SARAH AUDSLEY is a freelance writer, poet, climber, and outdoor enthusiast living in New Hampshire's White Mountain region. She is a candidate in poetry in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Her non-fiction has appeared in Appalachia Journal and Alpinist magazine.