Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cherry Tree

Your quiet mother watched from her window as you leaned the ladder up against the cherry tree. Your good father watched from his vineyard as the hem of your dress disappeared into the blossoms of the lowest branches. For a moment your father thought he saw a man’s shadowy figure moving quickly up the rungs of the ladder behind you but he couldn’t be certain. In his worry he cut off his hands with vine shears and buried them in the soil at his feet so that his prayers could go down into the earth and be heard like Cane’s blood as it went down into the earth.

In the thick shouldered limbs a young man taught you how to eat the fruit of that tree without using your hands. You arched your long back and tilted your head, moving your open mouth up towards the clusters of fruit like a nursing calf. You flicked a cherry with the tip of your tongue and laughed. Then you clutched the cherry between your teeth and broke its sour skin and pulled it down from the limb. The young man rested in the branches beside you on his back like a king and you retrieved fruit for him with your mouth. You brought the cherries to him, one by one, and pushed them past his lips with your tongue.When there were no more cherries he began to devour your mouth.

“Al dente” he said, as he chewed the tip of your tongue.

Your smile became crimson and grotesque. Blood lined the gaps between your teeth and colored your inner lip like wine and the man told you that you tasted ferrous like iron and sweet like cherry and you were suddenly terrified.

“My first communion was also a nightmare,” He said.

But of course, you could not speak.

When you finally fell from the tree it was very dark and the ladder was no longer there. Your lanky body made a dull crunch on the damp roots and you woke after some time to find your arm distorted and turned unnaturally beneath you. You looked up at him resting in the branches as you lay on the dewy ground and he laughed looking down at you and said, “My darling, are you going somewhere? To whom will you go?”

And still, you could not speak.