These were the times to fear. We were already falling. And had been. What we wanted were purple slugs, a slime to sing to. Give us the pretty girls, the pretty boys, the little child dead and mossy at the bottom of the well. Our hands against the stones were pounding, were pounding and bloody palmed. Look at us, at the bottom of the false wooden bottom, playing a joke on Mom. Look at her face, twisted with terror. But such was the age of us. We with our sunburned cheeks, with our frostbitten toes. We didn’t care if they fell off. We wanted them to. We begged for it: Please, please, God of the Toes, take ours as sacrifice and bring us a field of moist corn stalks and pig shit. In the apple orchard the sticks stung like meanies. We unzipped ourselves and climbed the stout trunks. I had an apple in my hand and it was bruising as I threw it, the air pushing its skin in. Yours was a rotten one, already bruised and flying apart in the apple leaves, depositing its brown and mushy flesh in splatters. This was the way we came and Mom was in the gravel road crying and we laughed at her. We laughed and we laughed at her silly poor-person jacket and we laughed at her face, and at her silly tears.
This poem appeared in Indiana Review 31.1, Summer 2009.
Rebecca Lehmann is the author of Between the Crackups (Salt, 2011). Her poems are published or forthcoming in Fence, Ploughshares, Boston Review, and other journals. She teaches creative writing at SUNY Potsdam.