Stone Fruit

~ after Li-Young Lee

In another land, I used to know 
          you only in one form— drenched

in syrup, packed 6-8 halves to a can;
         unnatural gold, firm at first to the bite,

tufted cup sometimes still faintly rouged 
        with pink where hands pried the pit loose

in a factory, perhaps somewhere in the south
        where I now live. But I never knew the way 

light fell through orchards at dusk or dawn, 
        how the smells of ripening mingled with dust,

or if every fruit picker in this country still looks
        like me. I read a Chinese folk tale of a boatman 

who lost his way and wound up in a village fenced
        from time, suspended in peach blossoms—

The story says, everyone who forgets what such
        happiness is like, loses the chance to be immortal.

I also know a poem that gave me a peach before I ever 
       bit into the actual flesh of one: that traced its provenance 

before a boy at a roadside stand dropped them, 
       still warm from the sun, into a paper bag. And thus 

I learned how words, too, conjure the same 
       sugar and skin, how they dapple in both 

shadow and sunlight. As for what is impossible 
       and what we find we can hold in our hands, 

it should always be a bittersweetness, tasting the gift
      which comes from seed we did not sow ourselves.


One Reply to “Stone Fruit”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.