peeling peaches at the kitchen sink

we went “a fur piece” to get the peaches piled in their half bushel boxes
just a little ways down the road from where they’d been picked just hours before

the whole way home the car smelled like peaches, real peaches
not that artificial scent that just misses its mark
bringing back memories of sitting with folks I love under the fan
peeling peaches and telling stories and crying out over discovering a worm
or a split pit

we loaded up the table and began the job of putting them up for winter
when there will be no peaches
except those shipped from foreign lands
I once met a peach in Japan that was three dollars
all by himself
and I left him there

I stood in the street as the sun made its way up from the horizon
and heard her sadness, the pain
of not being able to heal her sister
whose life is being stripped away, one muscle at a time
and the heartbreak in her eyes was too much
all I could do was take her a basket of peaches later on and leave
all the words unsaid
for no amount of “I’m sorry’s” or “what can I do?”
can fix her heart or cure her sister

as I stood at the sink I remembered my last trip for peaches
with Mama
and that she drove herself back down there a few days later
all by herself
I marveled at that and now that road brings bittersweet
tears
remembering
and still I stand at the sink and peel the peaches,
rinsing off the remaining fuzz,
and cutting them up
for winter bites of summer sunshine
or cobblers
whenever the children ask

and they always do
that boy won’t touch a bought canned peach
oh, he did that one time
and said, with his mouth full, turned up in disgust
“what on earth is this? this is NOT a peach!”
no, it’s what they call a California cling
nowhere near the Georgia delicacy that grows on trees
after the 4th

of July, that is

we never really put much stock in the ones before that
at least none of us raised around them

as I was

I miss watching my Daddy’s hands deftly peeling the big peaches he brought home
and Mama cutting them up and putting them in the freezer,
that woman’s freezer was always so organized
she used to mark how many dozens of quarts she’d put up that summer
on the slip of paper by the Frigidaire
of snap beans, squash, peaches, and so much more

and oh, she made pickles too

but my favorite were the pickled peaches my Granny made
the sweet and sour and cloves and vinegar
were the fireworks of summer dining
as the juice dripped down my chin
a smile always came

I miss her pickled peaches
and her

and since I can’t do a thing about all the missing and sadness
and sorrow in the world and on my street
I stand at the sink, peeling peaches
putting them up for winter
as I’ve done every summer for so many years

stocking up the
peaches

and
the light
and warmth

for when the world grows cold again

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