They sit on the steps of our low front porch,
cherry-stained fingers dropping pits
onto the grass or sidewalk.
“They is good but they is sowie,”
exclaims our tiny neighbor, looking up
at my dad, who sits with her and her brothers,
his mouth, too, full of sour cherries
pulled from the trees in our back yard.
My sister and I spend summer afternoons
picking off stems and squeezing
the fruit to expel the pits,
juice running down our arms
to drip off elbows and pool on the
table, attracting ants.
Bowlful after bowlful is removed from the table
by my mom to make into pies to freeze.
This task of summer is rewarded all winter long
by the crisp thin crust and tapioca-thickened
ooze of sugared cherry gel surrounding
the fruit sweetened by some chemistry
of my mother’s hand.
Those summer days were lengthened
by the absence of the tolling school bell across the street
and by a sun that lingered into night,
bedtimes stretching out because of the impossibility
of going to bed before dark.
“Ollie ollie oxen free,” echoed from
games of hide-and-seek that ranged
from the playground across the street
into our backyard where cherry trees
that offered shade in the heat,
offered shelter from detection at night.
The aroma of cherry pie, fresh from the oven,
whetted more than mere appetites
during all those nights when,
snow piled on the windowsills,
we bit into
the sweet memories
For dVerse Poets
Image by Joanna Kasinska on Unsplash, used with permission.