A Young Girl Pares Fruit
Once, you told me plums tasted like the papaya seeds
your father spit into your mouth when you were young —
you wondered if saliva could retain memory like dissolved
particles in water. If so, then maybe that is why you refuse
to say his name. Then, you said you wanted your body to dilute.
I asked why. You did not answer. When we were five, we picked
at the fat of our stomachs and let insects suck our bone until
our mothers scrambled in with bared teeth. We like to joke about that.
At age seven, when news came out of the girl whose bed rolled out the window,
your arms wrapped around my chest and I found a shrine in your breath.
That night, I prayed to Mary that our mouths would become one and part only
when the wind cracks our lips. When we clamber among others to fit
behind the uneven structure of rocks, our bodies tirelessly tumbling onto the dirt,
we wrench a clump of weeds from the damp earth and you tell me
there is no such thing as skin. That same day, I felt your lips and knew it was a lie.
The next morning, your calves greased from the August heat, you lace
your sneakers and climb up twenty-two flights of stairs. You expand your arms
for an embrace but collect absence instead. You see my tawny-feathered eyes peering
from a car window. A quick glance to the moving truck behind us. I wonder if brick
crammed into your throat like a papaya seed. If you hugged anyone ever again after.
If you hastily shut doors before your mouth. If you ever circled an uncombed
curl around the ridges of your index finger and thought, This is my favorite melody.
Once, I dipped my tongue in bathwater to wither away the memory of
what our language does not allow us to carry—like how we see flesh and our mothers see
snake-scaled nails. Perhaps God will forgive me now, I thought.
After, I ate a plum and tasted your name. I have not said it since.
Process: This piece is regarding a subject matter that I’ve still been struggling to come to terms with for a whole now. Recounting on the melange of childhood memories definitely prodded this sense of contemplation into what shaped my identity. The process in writing this piece was cathartic in a way that it brought many points of revelation that I myself am still processing.
Brittany Adames is an eighteen-year-old Dominican-American writer residing in the eastern United States. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Bombus Press, CALAMITY Magazine, Thoughtcrime Press, among others. When not writing poetry, you can find her taking a nap.