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.