Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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First Fruit
     Fannie Burlingame, DeLand, Florida, 1889

The first green fruit
hides among leaves.

The oranges feel hard
as limes, the skin

blister-tight. Soon cool nights
will loosen flesh into ripeness

and suffuse fruit
with a golden blush.

Once, as a child, I plundered
the Duchess tree in our garden.

Pale yellow with rosy stripes,
the apples glittered on the tree.

I knew the colors needed to deepen,
but I could not resist

the fruit’s speckled beauty.
I devoured apple after apple,

my teeth piercing crisp skin,
my tongue curling from tart flesh.

I could not keep myself from feeding,
even as the first pangs of sickness

stung my side. My mother found me,
cores strewn about my black boots,

my dress stained with juice.
I will never forget her palm

pressing forgiveness
into my forehead,

nor my heart’s dull pulse already
heavy with the waiting before me.  

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