5:4: “Apple Picking”, by Helena Bell

5:4: “Apple Picking”, by Helena Bell
Molly married John in an orchard,
days before the war. He dipped her low,
blonde curls catching the fuzz
of dandelions, while his clone watched.

It was shy at first, spent the honeymoon

watching home movies. John hated its voice;
it clanged like a piano out of tune.
Too close to his for comfort.
It reacted slow for military standards,
laughed loud at its own jokes,
liked to freeze its brain with ice cream.

The day John’s ship left, the clone
learned to sing Don’t Sit

Under the Apple Tree, and dip
Molly low while dancing.
Molly scowled when the clone forgot
anniversaries, but it learned
which touch of her back
sent her puddling to the floor.
John called it slow, she didn’t mind.

Letters came often.

The clone read by firelight,
staging battles with golf balls, paper planes.
It censored lines describing the squish
of alien eyeballs under Navy issue boots,
the clamor of shelled bodies tripping over decks,
laughs and cheers as John sent enemy ships
limping into the sun.

The clone left when John came home.

Molly lazed in the orchard,
while John stuffed apples
in his mouth, swallowed chunks whole,
chucked seeds at passing Admirals.
Years later Molly still longed for the clone.
How it would sliver
red skin from flesh,
suck gently,
chew.


Helena Bell is an MFA candidate in Poetry at Southern Illinois University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in issues of Strange Horizons, Mythic, and Margie Review.

This poem was inspired by Glenn Miller, my grandmother, and Bourbon in lieu of flowers.



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