Deep Blue Fruit


Or say she is dreaming of her child floating

again in the alluvial waters of the womb:

brackish, dense. And imagines her breasts

swollen as the moon that lists above

the tupelos and willows. Or by day she notices

that the trees beyond the cabin gather in such

a straight line she pictures them as a sequence

of years. Or she remembers her grandmother

telling her as a child that a single white feather

of a great egret prevented miscarriage. But

the day before she lost her son, her husband

dragged the bloodied carcass of a doe to

the back porch. The doe died and then her child

died, too. Still she feels the heaviness of her infant

gathering in her belly, sees the deep blue fruit

of the black tupelos swaying in the wind. She has

asked her husband to take away the doe, which

is attracting flies and smells like the green muck

congealing on the surface of the lake. And whenever

she thinks now of her son, she pictures a rising

moon pale with grief, drifting. The swamp waters

moving slowly as a pulse. A cottonmouth dropping

from the lowest limb of a sweetgum tree.

And sometimes, late at night, she closes her eyes

and envisions that cottonmouth slipping like ripe

fruit into the brackish waters, envisions the discarded

skin of that snake curled on the sharp knees

of the cypresses. Or she imagines her son

existing like the frogs that dig deep into

the mud come winter to survive the cold.