Excess of Sweetness

“Forgive me/ they were delicious/ so sweet/ and so cold.”
-William Carlos Williams

In the darkened backseat of that Ford Suburban
I cheated sixteen plums from their paper sack
to love them unconditionally, each wet string
and prickly core. Sated, I nursed my secrets
until my mother reached her searching hand behind her,
squeezed through the crinkles of a barren brown bag
and gasped at her child’s purple smile.

I didn’t know that plum pits are toxic, like
cursing or bad manners, that they were filled with cyanide
like the sin kisses of couples on soaps
and the harder movies.

At the hospital, I wouldn’t give them up.
I had to hold my mother’s hand
while they pumped my stomach empty, else the cores
would kill me.

It took three years to admit
to my sister that I had given in
to my first love. She sobbed and nodded,
began to say the same, but I stopped her.
It didn’t feel right, telling the truth,
even then,
after it was all over,
after we had already gone bad.

Maybe I can still take it back.

Surely what he and I had done
had not made anything; yet every time, we let
the accident happen again, let ourselves
fuse and grow together like Siamese strawberries.
I would go home and hurl away the pinks and purples
for shame’s sake, curl up and wait for consequence,
for the toxins to settle deep in my pit
and to begin to grow a sin.


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