Peaches in a colander

I Never Liked Them Green

Feel free to take the last peach.
Feel free to gather it from the bowl, 
to peel the woolish skin with the dullest blade,
the rusted blade that tempts you 
with its wicked ways. 
The distance to the flesh is only a cat’s howl 
on the ruby lip of a Spanish roof. 
Forty-one whores 
have courted me in my time 
and not one took off her garter 
when the phone lifted its unyielding ear.
Righteousness is found fat-lipped 
on the edge of a Coca-Cola sign, trapped
between the fender of a ’52 Buick 
and a tinplate wall.
Back behind the garage, Mick spits farthest,
outshining the other boys. Much practice
since they closed down the factory. 
It is a sorry thing to miss.
You know the ache you feel 
for some time when the cotton grew
driving distance, 
and even if you never held a hoe, 
it was a comfort. It was a way of believing
that time does not move on.
Your daddy will always hold you,
slip you a quarter
when your mama says no,
tell you—always—the secrets
you need to know.

Feel free to eat the last peach.
I have never believed in photographs,
in clutching a trigger-happy box
to record what I am afraid
there will not be time enough to see.
I have traveled 41 states in my time
and each of them had a House of Beauty.
Forty-one states, and I never met a man
who did not regret that yesterday was gone
or a woman who believed
tomorrow would be kind.

I do not know what will have been my prime,
but I feel compelled to tell Charlie
and the lady who cut my bangs too short
for the junior prom
and the men who could not remember
to pay child support
and the other woman I have been
and lost love for
that I have failed to forgive them.
Feel free to eat the last peach.

In 1932 the whores in Madrid
lived in the biggest house in town.
Red curtains lifted their skirts to reveal
the whitest lace a coal town ever knew.
In the cedar chest 
which rots in the southeast corner 
of my garage, a photograph of that bordello 
curls its edges against the pinafore 
my daughter outgrew in 1974. 
I peel from a windowsill tomato
an oval sticker notifying me that
I am about to consume a vine-ripened fruit.
My knife hesitates at the hard yellow navel.
I know I must go on and slice it,
peel it back so my youngest child can
eat and not become entangled in the tough,
unyielding skin. I do not know
why I pause or why now I recollect
Olive Cabiness in her Alabama shingle home,
long before the telephone lines
connected her tin rooftop
with the same black wires carrying
Mrs. Owens’ invitation to Sunday tea.
I do not know why I think of her now
and the way she sliced them thin
and laid them on her blackened toast.

About the author:

B. Lynne Zika’s photography, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous literary and consumer publications. 2023 publications include The Crossroads, The Rye Whiskey Review, and Writing in a Woman’s’s Voice. 2022 publications include Delta Poetry Review, Backchannels, Poesy, Suburban Witchcraft, and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. In addition to editing poetry and nonfiction, she worked as a closed-captioning editor for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Awards include: Pacificus Foundation Literary Award in short fiction, Little Sister Award and Moon Prize in poetry, and Viewbug 2020 and 2021Top Creator and Hero Awards in photography. Website:

Photo by Kelsey Todd on Unsplash

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