I'm at the plot where they buried
my old high school. Grass grows in patches,
a graveyard for condom wrappers, tattered baseballs,
and plastic liquor flasks. But today, a fruit tree
stands on the desolate ground with sprigs
of green leaves and a dense canopy
full of apricots. The limbs shake,
apricots drop thick as hail, hit the ground
with heavy thuds. I try to run, slip
on the guts of the fallen. The apricot
underneath my knee contains a piece of paper:
on it, my full name. I catch another from the air,
put my thumbs in and rip its firm flesh open:
another bit of paper, wrapped around
the apricot's stone. I keep opening the fruit,
reading my future in phrases that don't fit
my current life: moved from Cedar Falls,
no longer with Paul, stay-at-home mom.
Never finished law degree. I gather as many
as I can, arrange them on the ground,
struggle to find a conclusive order.
The apricots begin to melt into the ground.
A breeze disperses the paper into the air
like a bevy of quail in a whirl of flight.
I try to jump, reach for the slips,
but my legs won't budge no matter how hard
I pull. My shoes have melted into the ground,
stuck in the plot of land that
I've always been afraid would take me.
About the Author
AJ Oxenford lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, where she teaches at a local college. She also owns a business with her husband--they take down barns and make furniture. She loves the Iowa Hawkeyes, reading mystery novels, and taking cat naps (with her cats).
Read more work by AJ Oxenford in Edition 03 of the Lady Blue Literary Arts Journal.