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Dorianne Laux - 1952-

My daughter, ten and brown—another summer
in Arizona with her father—steps
nonchalantly down the ramp as planes
unfurl their ghostly plumes of smoke.
I had forgotten how his legs, dark
and lean as hers, once strode toward me
across a stretch of hammered sand.
And her shoulders, sloped like his, a cotton
blouse scooped so low I can see
her collarbones arched gracefully
as wings, the cruel dip
in the hollow of her throat. And my throat
closes when she smiles, her bangs
blown into a fan around her face, hair
blond as the pampas grass that once waved
wild behind our fence. Whatever held us
together then is broken, dishes
in pieces on the floor, his dead
cigarettes crushed one after another
into the rail of the porch.
Now she opens her arms as he
used to, against a backdrop of blue sky,
so wide I worry she’ll float up on these
gusts of clutching wind and disappear,
like a half-remembered dream, into
the perilous future, into the white
heart of the sun.

More by Dorianne Laux

A Short History of the Apple

The crunch is the thing, a certain joy in crashing through
living tissue, a memory of Neanderthal days.
   —Edward Bunyard, The Anatomy of Dessert, 1929


Teeth at the skin. Anticipation.
Then flesh. Grain on the tongue.
Eve's knees ground in the dirt
of paradise. Newton watching
gravity happen. The history
of apples in each starry core,
every papery chamber's bright
bitter seed. Woody stem
an infant tree. William Tell
and his lucky arrow. Orchards
of the Fertile Crescent. Bushels.
Fire blight. Scab and powdery mildew.
Cedar apple rust. The apple endures.
Born of the wild rose, of crab ancestors.
The first pip raised in Kazakhstan.
Snow White with poison on her lips.
The buried blades of Halloween.
Budding and grafting. John Chapman
in his tin pot hat. Oh Westward
Expansion. Apple pie. American
as. Hard cider. Winter banana.
Melt-in-the-mouth made sweet
by hives of Britain's honeybees:
white man's flies. O eat. O eat.