The Fruit Men Won – A True Story
The Fruit Men Won
A black wreath collects flakes of snow – for a fruit man.
A black wreath nailed to a door of old wood –
signifying death – decorated by snow in early November –
white snow – white like the soul of a fruit man.
“He wasn’t ready for the other side,” a man speaks
as he reached the top of the stairway.
Men and women climb a narrow staircase – a smell of
cedar clings to hand-sewn drapes – covering
a stained glass window – visitors stare out to
Seneca Street then turn to climb four more steps to
the second floor – the mahogany door is open.
Here is where others gather to pray – stare at death,
observe John sleeping between bow windows in
his parlor – his place to live – now still.
Women talk – pour a bit of espresso, slice hot
bread – Nancy will never know who took up space –
who drank – who ate, or cooked homemade bread –
She won’t recall who hugged her, wiped tears and
tasted salt on her cheeks – who felt her pain.
John – she thought – he never cared about one
gold tooth as it shined catching light when she
laughed – he never noticed old worn – dingy aprons,
or watched as she twisted clothes like twisting
her hair into a braid. John never saw pinholes
in her dress where flowers were placed on their
God took her sunlight in the winter of her life,
three sons to raise alone, in a world where
immigrants were frowned upon.
She saw the undertaker drain John’s blood into
their tub on Monday morning – three days he
laid between bow windows, where plants still grow
in daylight – his soul left long ago – through
She won’t remember friends who washed
dishes, after feeding the hungry, or cleaning
her kitchen – those who remained at her side
a day of two – friends who whispered to each other
“What will become of them, a mother
and her three sons?”
As age began to take a toll – her feet began
to swell, her hands would shake as flowers were
placed at his grave; she never complained . . .
She talked with John, her gold tooth still caught
the sunlight. On her walk, slower now passing
strangers – nodding hello – still talking to her
husband, promising to meet him at heaven’s gate.
“He is with you.” I fought but in the end, the fruit men won.