Eating Cherries

by Monique Reyes


In the heat of the sunshine we dashed

through sprinklers while the sun kissed us,

our skin pink then deep red, like the bed of

cherries that fell to our feet like rubies.

Sweet treats from the tree in our grandmother’s

front lawn that grew with us as seasons changed.


The tree gave us gifts to match our bruises,

crimson and purple from playing

too rough, wrestling too much, hitting

our scooters against our shins as a game,

laughing, trying to jump in time

before metal swung around, colliding

with our bones.


Against the solid core of a soft,

sweet and sour cherry

my cousin chipped a tooth.

And yet, we learned to love what hurt us

most because of how delicious it tasted:

tart, warm, juicy on our tongues stained scarlet.


None of us noticed when the tree

began to rot, only once cherries stopped

falling at our feet. Its branches grew so weak

and thin they could no longer cradle

nests of birds without snapping.


My father hacked it down to a stump

but we can still remember

how the cherry’s juices dripped

from our chins and onto clothes

and we can still remember

how it felt to throw a cherry

into our mouths, gnashing

its skin from its flesh as we chewed

and taste those summers

we will one day grow to forget.


We’ve grown used to the headstone

that remains there on the front lawn:

round, dead, dark, full of splinters

and I wonder if anyone

but the grass or me

will mourn the cherry tree.

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