Washing Grapes with Mei Li
Terri Brown-Davidson

Trace the black-purple surface more tenderly if it’s flecked—
this is the law that applies to those under four,
for whom wounds assume a strange and palpating life
of their own, so even the nicked grape becomes sensate,

the fruit skin juice-split
or carelessly handled a spark, an empathy-ignition
so riveting I watch my daughter’s dark head bend over
the grape stem water-splashed from the sink.

She thinks everything’s emotional: the sky when it darkens
for a thunderstorm, her face reflecting a pallor panic
I long to erase with my gentle caressing thumbs,
her black eyes measuring everything:

how the raw grass withers at horizon point, white and sere
and stark, how the sky flares blue-green before sinking
into a pewter duskiness, her face pulsing
with a light so brilliant it shivers—it dwindles—across my blinded eyes.


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