Pushcart Nominee Gwendolyn Cash
Choosing Berries and Onions
Someday, I will be old, wrinkled,
always tired, a little bent, graveled
in voice, deaf to the small sounds,
more in tune to the big notes, the harp's
vibrations, the trembling of the galaxy.
I will forget to worry about my
sagging arms and ass. I will smell
like soap from the grocery store and cherry
cough drops. Maybe someone else
will tie my shoes. I will still wear earrings,
though, turquoise drops with French hooks
to emphasize the only color left, my same
two eyes. I want to see myself
in the market then, my white hair
in a wispy knot, bony fingers poking
out the sleeve of a moth-eaten sweater,
olive green, picking through the cabbages
and pears, choosing potatoes and limes,
all my life's fretting just more grist
for the dust this body daily grinds.
So what if love was a missed shot, a failed
approach, an off stroke of the brush
on the unforgiving canvas? And so it was.
Always in its rhythm, the heart listens,
and the heart resists itself. Among
the mangoes out of season, I will say
to myself out loud, staring the young box boy
in the eye, All this here? Ha!
Give me back all I have lost.
He won't have any answers, either.
In the apples he carefully polishes, though,
I will see a light glowing, expanding,
two blue eyes glaring back. This is
how I will, I think, know god.
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