She twirls it in her left hand,
a small red merry-go-round.
According to the white oval sticker,
she holds apple #4016.
I’ve read in some book or other
of four thousand fifteen fruits she held
before this one, each equally dizzied
by the heat in the tips of her fingers.
She twists the stem, pulls it
like the pin of a grenade, and I just know
somewhere someone is sitting alone on a porch,
bruised, opened up to their wet white ribs,
riddled by her teeth—
With her right hand, she lifts the sticker
from the skin. Now,
the apple is more naked than any apple has been
since two bodies first touched the leaves
of ache in the garden.
Maybe her apple is McIntosh, maybe Red Delicious.
I only know it is the color of something I dreamed,
some thing I gave to her after being away
for ten thousand nights.
The apple pulses like a red bird in her hand—
She is setting the red bird free,
but the red bird will not go,
so she pulls it to her face as if to tell it a secret.
She bites, cleaving away a red wing.
The red bird sings. Yes,
she bites the apple and there is music—
a branch breaking, a ship undone by the shore,
a knife making love to a wound, the sweet scrape
of a match lighting the lamp of her mouth.
This blue world has never needed a woman
to eat an apple so badly, to destroy an apple,
to make the apple bone—
and she does it.
I watch her eat the apple,
carve it to the core, and set it, wobbling,
on the table—
a broken bell I beg to wrap my red skin around
until there is no apple,
there is only this woman
who is a city of apples,
there is only me licking the juice
from the streets of her palm.
If there is a god of fruit or things devoured,
and this is all it takes to be beautiful,
then God, please,
eat another apple
Diaz, Natalie. When My Brother was an Aztec. United States, Copper Canyon Press, 2012.
Why I chose this poem
I didn't choose this one. It chose me, bubbling up through algorithms of preference in this Ours Poetica reading by Kay Ming Chang. It is transmission, ignition, a call to remember what I love.