All day walking in Austin, then peaches,
ice-dewed in a silver bucket.
Their flesh was sealed but soaked—
dense-haired, close-mouthed Ziploc,
unpierced. They sat piled across the street
beside a flushed and beaming persistent woman
who waved one wandlike arc of hand
toward the six of us, insistent.
Purple magic marker on the ramshackle
cardstock sign: FREE PEACHES! FREE PRAYERS!
There are peaches when it is hot
in Austin, preciously secured in private,
cold buckets, secret sweetness behind their seals
across the street. The woman wanted
to pray for us, I wanted a peach, and Erik
wanted to bow his dry sober shut mouth
in humble silence while her hand acquired
the whispered drying saltwater of his skin.
They were already bathed. So easy to slide sharp
flat tooth into fruit, render askew
ropes of slippery tissue from the waxy rind
of peel. So easy, with a blessing and sticky lips,
as sand salamander streaks congealed down my wrist,
to pitch a pernicious pit into the gutter of the bridge.
Pray the nectar that remained in ribbony veins
on the stubborn hard stone would secrete a scent
to provoke, at least, one in the millions
of the city’s nightly bats.
Matthew DeMarco is a writer, editor, and educator living in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago. He is a recipient of the Eileen Lannan Poetry Prize, for which his work has appeared on Poets.org. His poems can also be found in Opossum and Columbia Poetry Review. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.