by Matthew Ostapchuk
When I was young, outside my window hung a plum
tree’s pregnant bough, out of reach. On the branch
plums swelled, bled, rotted. Beneath the tree was a plum
carpet. My mother gathered the pits, carefully placed
each in a half-full glass of water. She covered every surface
in the house with glasses. Mother waited patiently.
The pits distended in the belly, split, finally—spilled
family secrets. My mother told me stories: she, as a little
girl, watched the plums down the street, their grand house,
the soirées, plum balls; watched through her gauzy, city-girl
curtains. Her mouth waters fierce remembering.
I plucked a low-slung plum when I was tall enough,
bit the flesh, let the nectar inundate me—became! a plum
with waxy coat, and underneath, gold. When my mother
found out? Purple with rage. “Can’t you understand, plums
aren’t meant to be eaten. Look closer,” she said. “A plum’s
pit is a tiny universe. Within it, violet stars, spiral galaxies in
which awkward creatures love with thick plum hearts.
If you eat them, how will I discover where I belong?”
This woman, a prune. Now we sit together watching pits,
for what? A flash of purple and gold, maybe. A glow from
within illuminating this shadowed room. The moment she
can hold her hand up before her face, see through
the darkness that the flesh is new, supple, deep hued.
Matthew Ostapchuk is a recent graduate of the MFA program at Hollins University. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including Diverse Voices Quarterly, Jet Fuel Review, Specter Literary Magazine, and Interrobang!? Magazine, among others. He lives and works in Roanoke, Virginia, where he holes up with a beautiful artist, a dog often disguised as a dinosaur, and myriad crocheted sea-creatures.