Fruits of the World

by Gary Soto

Just before lunch, and just because,
My mother brought a belt across my legs.
Later, I hobbled to the front yard, where at the curb,
I wet my wounds with spit and ate a plum.
I imagined the sky falling, but first a robin’s egg
And peaches with their furry bellies fell,
Mullberries with worms at their center,
Plus hail, God’s coldest tears.

Where was the bearded apostle to save me?
Where was a haloed saint with a staff made of sugar?
Before dinner, a hanger fell across my arms and legs
Just because, and for dessert I was handed
A slice of cantaloupe. Where was that Biblical garden?
Where was a jolly uncle? I ate my slice sobbing,
And walked down the alley until I found myself
Under an apricot tree, its limbs thrown up
Just like the arms of Jesus on the cross.
I climbed the tree. The fruit was ripe,
And fell almost noiselessly when I scampered higher,
My feet like spurs against the limbs.
This only made me sadder. In the next yard,
My neighbor was chasing a chicken with a hoe
Just because, and two of his children
Huddled close to each other on the steps,
A pair of watermelon rinds eaten to the green,
The sweetness long gone.

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