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by Anne Pierson Wiese

Once a year, for the apple dressing,
my mother peeled apples, standing
at the kitchen counter, wicked
paring knife skimming around the fruit
in a sketchy spiral, the goal—aside
from our holiday dinner—to get the skin
off whole, a strip that when held up dangled
gently, constricted by the physics
of having been round into a hieroglyph,
red and pale with something of green
in between, a vegetable cypher that I,
with my dull knife, could never replicate—
for all the concentration I possess, I did
not have the right hands then or now to prize
a fortune out of nowhere, tossing the un-
broken peel over my left shoulder
into thin air to read in its shape
where it fell on our blistered floor
the first letter of my future husband’s
name—another poor girl’s game my mother
taught me that did not take: the truth is,
you lose your mother or your mother loses you.


This poem first appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of The Antioch Review.


Wiese_photoAnne Pierson Wiese’s first collection, Floating City (Louisiana State University Press) received the Academy of American Poets Walt Whitman Award. Honors include a Fellowship in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a “Discovery”/The Nation poetry prize.


© 2014 The Antioch Review