If we meet one day I will tell you how we sat on
the floor while your father cooked fish in a shallow pan
and how you ate yogurt from the spoon I filled and cleaned
by tidying the excess from the reservoir along
the rim of the bowl. After a few bites
you insisted you feed yourself— hands jutting,
lips drooling— and after your last bite
you held forth the bumbling knuckle of your pinky
to offer its vanilla coating. So sweet was the cream
from your fingernail as fried trout crackled behind us.
I didn't have time to pick every apple, just
those within reach
when I drove my toe into the core of the branches and
clung by the stem of my arm. But I must admit
to leaving the apple, quiet and still, caught
untethered in the boughs, who may have broken free
when I shook the trunk or the wind awoke. But
unready for the basket, the soil, the noon sun that preys
on apples who roll the length of the orchard hill,
tonight his mother holds his bruiseless body, his embered smile,
his ripening cheek.
Keith Love is resident physician in the Department of Medicine at the Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. While completing his medical degree at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, he developed a passion for medical humanities. His appearance here in 2River is his first publication.