You Know What They Say: Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries
Cherries are not always sweet, their seasons short. But the trees have wisdom enough to know that it is exposure to cold, the shivers and gusts that prompt their germination, their bearing such luscious globes as Pink Perfection, Pendula Rubra, Accolade.
Ethel Merman belted out the lyrics not bothering to mention that the Cerise, as the French call them, are sometimes wild, not cultivated. Sometimes sour.
Only a child is naive enough to believe that if you’re blue, you can just paint yourself another color. Paint yourself some shade of red. When such children grow, spend more time on the tufted couches of shrinks than on their own, sing them home, Ethel. Warn them to quickly cook up some sweet cherry compote before the fruit rots, and then lace it with Kirschwasser or Cherry Heering. That may be all they have to fill their bowls.
My mother loved to tell the story of how
she left me asleep in the carriage at the mouth
of the primeval cave beneath our Brooklyn building.
while she went down to get something from the old
wood storage bin. Just a minute later she would climb
back up to find the sneaky cat that Saul Gelowitz,
the landlord, kept down there to catch mice. It was crouching
on my baby belly, attracted to my milky musk.
I loved the part about how she shrieked so loud she scared
the cat into bolting back down to its own hell,
to where the old coal furnace hulked behind heaps of black
nuggets that fed it and kept its one eye winking.
My mother never told me how much she hated
the fiery Cyclops and its urban underworld,
or how spooked she was by cats, but stoically descended
the stone steps to get my brand new Huffy with its training
wheels and pedals sandwiched between red wood blocks.
She’d hoist it from the dank floor fragrant with cat piss, push
it through the yaws of the splintery basement door
into the circle of sunlight on the cracked city sidewalk.
Now the only circles of light are tiny green blips
on the monitor screen by Mother’s bedside graphing pulse
and beats, making the respirator accountable for its work.
Her silver-black hair has begun its re-growth to cover
the seam in her scalp, but every now and again her eyes
widen as if old man Gelowitz’s cat is luring her below.
Audrey Friedman is a retired Rhode Island educator. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Vermont College in ‘05. Many of Audrey’s poems appear in literary journals including the Comstock Review, California Quarterly, and the Newport Review. She now teaches creative writing to adults and serves as a contributing editor to Hunger Mountain even while she is traveling the world.