The Life I Wanted
by Theodora Goss
One day I took the life I wanted
and bit into it.
It had been sitting in a blue ceramic bowl
of other lives, some red, some yellow,
some green — I thought those might be
too sour. I took the one I wanted,
red on one side, yellow on the other,
with a scattering of freckles.
It could have been painted by Renoir,
with sunlight falling on it from an implied
window, outside of which I could imagine
an equally implied summer. Bees
would have loved it.
It was vivid and, I thought,
probably sweet. So
I bit into it.
Yes, it was sweet.
It had not been grown in a commercial
orchard — it had bruises, brown spots,
even a hole where a worm might have bored
its way in. I had to eat around that.
But how sweet it was! All of the implied
summer was in its juice,
and its imperfections were the sign
of its authenticity. This life
had grown on a crooked tree
by some field where cows were grazing,
the sort of field covered with daisies
and chicory, from which you could glimpse
a grove of poplars and a river winding
away in the distance.
I had been hungry, and it filled me up,
until I felt like a child
tasting an apple she has picked
off the branch, juice running down her chin,
shouting, Mom, this one is mine!
I picked it myself!
(The image is Apples in a Dish by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.)