I touch this red cherry
and so I touch its stone,
its hard heart.
There are things you say to me—
this is how it is between us—
this is how we breathe together, or stop breathing.
The chair on the porch rocks with my breathing,
the kitchen curtain, scent of cherry
pie, the table with its bowl of fruit between us,
silence like a stone.
I hear each word you say to me
although you hide them in your heart.
The clock ticks with my heart.
The stirring curtain makes me think I’m breathing.
You’re looking out the window, not at me—
I reach to take a cherry,
feel the weight of its hidden stone
and so the hardness between us.
This is how it is with us—
it spins my heart.
You’ve been laying stone—
I’ve watched you labor, heard your breathing
underneath the cherry
tree, unaware of me.
I wonder what you’d give to me,
some deal between us—
a trade, wall for cherry.
A rock, a cherry, shapes like a heart—
a trade that halts my breathing,
sets another stone.
Go back to laying stone.
There’s nothing that you owe me—
I’ll keep breathing.
This rock, this cherry make us us—
in everything we’ll find a heart,
a heavy stone, a cherry.
I know my human heart will fail, lie still as stone—
you build the wall for us around the cherry
tree, your measured breathing circling me.
© Dorothy Dodge
Dorothy Dodge has lived in the Baltimore area most of her life, and has a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She became involved in the poetry community in the 1990’s and has read in many local venues. Her work has been published in the Maryland Poetry Review, The Pearl, Dancing Shadow Review, and elsewhere, and was a nominee for the Artscape poetry award. She currently hosts a monthly poetry salon and is devoting more of her time to studio art.