Emily Light's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Lunch Ticket, Bop Dead City,
Into the Void, and Star 82 Review, among others. She teaches English and lives in
Boonton (New Jersey, U.S.A.) with her husband and son.

Three Pears

By the time the
fruit can be picked only
three remain. The rest
have fallen prematurely
from the branches or
were picked and stomped
by children's curiosity,
their tiny evils. My daughter asks
when the fruit is ripe enough to eat.
The answer is when the flesh yields
but it hasn't been long enough
since I yielded in fear
and that man took it
to mean yes.
I pick one and find it rotten
in my hand. The bees
are swarming, eager
for the sugar borne of
their tiny act. My daughter
wants to lick my hands and my
resounds in this
common ground.

Nature Scene with Crystals and Disruption

The killdeer built her nest in the bluish-gray filler rocks
laid atop the access road behind the apartment building.

Sometimes I find foamy white crystals
among the shadow stone like the kind you grow in a kit,

decoys for the eggs delicate as a newborn's eyelids.
I saw boys throw these rocks at the killdeer, stones

she screamed and dodged. The killdeer doesn't mind
the nest's sharpness. Her babies won't know

anything else. Who in the bird world could say,
If you didn't live on rocks they wouldn't have rocks to throw?

There are trees, you know, and soft grasses
— but even then
I'm sure the boys would find a branch to stab her with.

We entered the shadows

We entered the shadows of the pavilion to make candles
still dripping from the summer camp's lake,
shorts and tank tops nearly bursting with our matte red glow.
We dipped thick white string into bumpy vats of wax.
Feet long, these strings unwound freshly snipped
from the tight ball. Dip the wax buildup
dip each side until we had nunchaku candles: red, green, and white.

Andrea brought hers back to the bunk.
She slit it down the middle and laid one side
on our counselor's bed. Her whispers whipped my ear.
We hung our candles later that night in the pine grove,
carved loose ends at the candles' bases with the boys'
pocket knives and lit the stiff nubs.
Andrea and I squinted at each other in the half light.
On our backs in the pine grove
we watched the wax leak lumpy lines
like tiny stairways we couldn't climb.

Did my candle tumble from its perch
or swan-dive? Its fiery hair spread across the forest floor
like Andrea had spread her wet, naked fingers in front of me
while we treaded water in the lake that morning.
Sap from the pine trees popped and screamed
and ranlike melted wax down the bark
like the lake water from Andrea's hair had flowed
down her backlike we poured from the pine grove.

Mountain Scene in the Aftermath

The granite boulders are still warm
on the cliff above the highway.
The moon is powerless to cool
even the dew in such haze.
To hear the blood tapping at the cage,
rattling the key,
Lucy doesn't breathe for a bit.

Lately she has noticed sunflowers growing
out of the highway median,
as though some cavalier undergrad
spat seeds through his teeth.
There sprouted blossoms in the cracks
against the pavement's will
these bright faces that in a month will bend at the neck
drop their burdens to the unyielding surface.
She wonders if they're beautiful.

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