Five American Fables
Imagine an apple. It’s green. Americans call it a Granny Smith because they revere women, especially elder women, and they love the name Smith. When you bite into the apple, you can suck the juice, which is sweet and tart, like the most flirtatious and audacious candy. Imagine holding it in your hands, taking a bite, sucking the juice, feeling the tartness enter your mouth, your teeth and lips feeling the imprint of the bite mark. You imagine a cast being made of your teeth marks. A cast that could be used to make a mold to identify teeth marks in a homicide.
Imagine a man, a charming man, with an excellent vocabulary, long fingers, and a wicked heart. He was a husband but he was not a husbandly man. His wife was a wifely woman, and so she kept a bowl of green apples on the kitchen counter, next to the bowl of lemons. She told him she needed to attend a conference for work next weekend. She told him the exact dates, the hotel where she would be staying, and the presentation title she would be giving. He picked up an apple and threw it at her head. She attended the conference with a patch over her eye. While she was speaking, a young man at the conference sent a message on her LinkedIn: “you are ravishing.” She ravished that young man later that evening.
Imagine a child, holding her grandfather’s hand, at a family apple orchard. It was an annual tradition, walking in the paths, being held on his shoulders, as she reached for the green apples. She was getting tall for a six-year-old, and she wanted to go on his shoulders again. He reached down, so she could climb up, they reached toward a branch, and then they both fell backwards. He had a stroke and died weeks later in the hospital. For years she tells people she is allergic to apples.
There was once a stepmother. She was pregnant, and so tired that she got pulled over on the Saw Mill for driving too slowly. She told the police officer with her eyes, I’m so tired, I don’t know what I’m doing bringing a child into this world, and raising one who already hates me. The officer was a white man, young, and she could not tell what kind of white man he was. She inhaled, and tried not to cry, because she was not a white woman with a name like Granny Smith, so she was not sure if she were allowed to cry, and this was Dobbs Ferry. The officer took the stepmother’s license and came back 12 minutes later, eating an apple, wiping his mouth, and returning her license. It was smeared with saliva and apple spit.
She was disgusted.
She was grateful.
For everything you envision, you have placed an apple on your altar. Next to the apple is a picture of your great grandparents who died before you were born, your friend from high-school who overdosed, your friend from college who left a sonnet as a suicide note. You don’t touch the apple, but you smell it. At first you smell the skin, and then you smell the meat inside, which begins to thicken and drip. You write out affirmations—I affirm financial abundance without trauma or heartburn. I work to create a just world while taking care of my body and spirit and plants. The soul roots I plant take hold, nourish the soil, grow strong, and bear fruit, even apples. You burn the affirmations. You make a note to bury the apple with the burnt edges of the wished upon paper. You burn the note. You push your fingers through the skin of the apple. You widen your nostrils and inhale the fermenting molasses rot. You are reminded of a lover, whose name you write and burn.