Protected: Jennifer Chiu
Sonnet to Ripening
The way to choose nectarines at the farmers’ market is not to choose
the ones that are already plump, the skin slick and soft in your palm,
any small force staining bruises that you dig into flesh wounds.
Instead, your father explains how the best ones are the unyielding
ones, the fruits whose days have not softened them into sweetness yet.
These are the ones that will last, wait for you even when you’ve lost
the hours and watched them spoil. You imagine the flesh flooded
with fructose, juice dribbling down your chin and puddling under your feet.
What your father doesn’t explain is that all fruit tends towards rot.
It is written in their lifeblood—the inevitable inclination towards ruin.
You force the wet flesh of the nectarines down your throat, swallowing it
before it can turn rot. The cavity of your stomach swells, juice curdling.
There is no way to stop this—no way to halt this deterioration
but you keep trying anyway, every mouthful gushing with sugar.
Jennifer Chiu is from Memphis, TN. Her prose and poetry are published or forthcoming in Pidgeonholes, Hobart Pulp, wildness, and elsewhere. When she’s not writing, she enjoys afternoon walks and making new playlists.