On the Night Before She Leaves Again

They are beautiful in the clear pint jars,
four amber peach halves tightly snuggled
into each other like cupped hands
with their empty centers down.

In a can, you can’t see the way they float,
the ruby hue of the syrup, the soft walls
of their unskinned flesh. I don’t know
why they remind me of women, these

halves, some metaphors are better
left mystery. Rather to have the hint
than to unravel it in its entirety. For now,
so much pleasure in the way the scent

hangs in the late night kitchen, bright tang
of apple juice and full-bodied sweetness
of cresthaven peach. Laughter and low
conversation still hover above the clean

countertops, and in the sink, pots dry
all upside down and akimbo. There is a reason,
I think, that for centuries women have done
this work together—so much more in

the jar than the fruit. How the hours loosen
the stories we clutch to our bellies and spill
them into the juice—talk of mothers, marriage,
our childhood, fears. I check the seals and fight

the urge to tighten the caps and push down the lids.
Some things work best when we let them rest.
Perhaps all things. But oh, so strong this desire
to fix, to set the world right, right now. And

the cricket in the corner sings syncopated
into the night. His uneven tune frames the silence
of two a.m. For now, there is nothing to do.
We stare at the fourteen jars of peach preserves

on the gingham rag and find them beautiful. It is
gratifying work. Night stays up, but my grown
step daughter and I part to separate rooms,
still leaning into a language deeper than words.

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