White Peaches

The white peaches announce themselves on the kitchen counter, 

quick scent flinting alight the worm-eaten dawn, 

the clean-edged note almost mineral, so unlike 

the vague, pulpy yellow of girlhood:

 

the backyard peach tree bowed down with too much 

sun-bruised fruit, wasped and sickly soft, until 

the August before fifth grade a branch split 

and had to be tied with a rope like a sling. 

The girl next door, whose brothers hid dirty magazines 

under her mattress, would sit swinging on the rope 

even though my mother had said No

I’d squint up through the rotting yellow glare 

heavy with sugar ripening, heady with not telling. 

Sometimes she kicked at me to Go away! or stayed there 

past dinnertime, until her mother hollered across the fence. 

When she skinned her knee coming down, we watched 

together the blood bloom a hundred tiny points 

like a hidden flower, like fire. 

 

My family moved away that winter and she wrote to me 

once, about her twelfth birthday party, and once more, 

years later, to say that she was better. 

And perhaps because I hadn’t known that she had 

not been well, because all that time I’ d understood 

nothing of her wounds, her reckless swearing and 

untold absences, I cannot now stomach 

the hot, close perfume of yellow peaches,

the yielding, honey-acrid core,

wishing as I do for her, too late, 

something different, anything.

 

Kyoko Uchida’s debut poetry collection Elsewhere was published in 2012 by Texas Tech University Press. Her poetry, prose, and translations have appeared in many journals, among them Conversations (Australia), Grand Street, and MĀNOA. She lives in Brooklyn.