"Red Crab Apples on the Ground"

Grammie reaches for a vegetable
From the rapidly diminishing pile, gets a tomato and begins to cut
Cut away from yourself, not toward she coaches
Wielding her knife like a vegetable surgeon
Her hands are lace over swollen bone
She and I perch in the kitchen on wooden chairs
The biggest silver mixing bowl fills with fresh vegetables
The sun comes in, early summer slantwise through the window by the table,
Reflects as if against water on the bowl, the vegetable mound
An island within
Out the window, the baby hummingbirds
Are learning to eat from the red plastic feeder with its
Fake yellow flower spouts for sugar water
Too tiny to hover, their claws scratch to gain purchase
On the smooth surface as they bend their beaks in to drink
Parents zooming like hawks as sentinels above and around
Grammie watches and laughs
Pulls the knife through tomato guts
And stops when it taps the base of her thumb
Crazy might be catching, or so Bethany says
So she doesn’t want to be my friend
I’ve drawn the lines on my arm with a razor blade
Blood pounding beneath my wrists too many times
My life dropping to the ground below me
Like red crab apples on the ground

Coming home from Grammie’s
Gravel beneath my feet, early summer morning
The sun clambers up the hills around
And I march down the road, the fog sweeping itself away
Across the valley floor
A doe raises her head from the pile of crab apples that have fallen
From the tree by the road, her fawn continues eating
She is enraged by my encroachment
She says by coughing loudly at me and lowering her head
As if to charge
I raise my arms in denial and back slowly away

My arms over my head, I stretch my back and bend
Back over the shopping cart
Costco, summer Sunday morning in Phoenix
The air conditioners strain to fill the warehouse
With its open doors and high, uninsulated ceilings
Alyn and I pick and choose from super sized packages
Pre-sliced vegetables and a new knife set
He comes up behind me and pulls my shoulders back
Says I know you want to stand up straight; I’m helping you
I slouch again

My cousin Megan came to live with me
When she dropped her man and her college
To try real life for a while. We fly in from Phoenix to see Grammie.
She’s going, everyone knows
But no one told us until now- big city girls don’t get
Bothered with such things
The adults mumble, making arrangements in Grammie’s kitchen
And we are given audience, ushered into her room by my aunt
We perch on her bed and she fights upward
Against the pain, her blue eyes become filled with more
Than the color of the empty summer sky in august
She says, You girls have gained weight, you look good
Megan and I sit, holding hands, shoulders down
It is September; the hummingbirds are gone.