Back to Issue Thirty-Three

The Perfect Fruit


                            The poison just didn't take. 
                                        —Anne Sexton, “Live” 

I’m growing a zoo of maggots
in the basin of my roommate’s salad 

                                        bowl from an apple given to me
                            by a stranger in the library. I was 

once told that writing a stanza
is to stand in a place. So, exist 

                                        in this place with me. Watch this 
                                                        apple fall apart. Help me watch skin 

curl and bleed brown. Watch the babies
seep from the apple’s pores and swim 

                                                        in its drippings. My mother keeps telling me
            that the only criteria for perfume is whatever 

doesn’t make you sick. I’m worried I want
to smell like the candy-plastic of a Barbie 

                                              left in her box too long, like a Christmas tree 
                                                        left on the side of the road in July, like Jackie O 

on Air Force One. When I called my abuelo 
last week to wish him a happy birthday, he replied 

                                        what time is it there? I tell him I’m three hours
                            ahead. It’s six-thirty. I wait for him to stop spitting 

bloody. Stop coughing into the paper napkin
my tía folds into his palm each morning. Okay mija, 

                                              hablamos when you come back. Maybe, I’m the perfect 
                                                                              fruit from his American Dream. Maybe, I can 

forget that, in 1959, he was forced to
watch his baby wither and die. Maybe, I can 

                                                        pretend that the baby didn’t die when all she needed
                                              was amoxicillin. Maybe, I’m not like Anne Sexton at all. 

Isabella Piedad Escamilla is a Latinx writer from Salinas, California. She currently lives in West Lafayette, Indiana, where she studies Plant Genetics, Breeding, and Biotechnology and Poetry at Purdue University.


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