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Grapes

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I wish when I saw them I’d think of that summer in Scalea. How they had seeds there. Wearing a diluted green shade, we’d peel each skin off with our front two teeth, swallowing the insides one by one. At first Izzy and I’d pick through the soggy outsides, leaving those for Oliver. We’d make sure to eat them before noon, and then hide while Manu complained about grocery bills.

Or maybe I’d remember that one night at Alta Plaza. After going to buy dinner and returning with only a bag of green grapes, Ben and I sat and shared them between us. All seedless, I could only find one soggy. We threw them into each other’s open mouths, and laughed as they fell into the sewage drain. Soon we had only a few left, perfect, oval-shaped green grapes. We watched the lights on the Golden Gate, taking turns, making sure our hands wouldn’t touch.

Or really I should remember those September afternoons. How every Friday on our way to the beach we’d stop at the market. Sausages, baby tomatoes, and a bag of grapes would sit in the trunk as we went over the mountain, and at each turn I’d reach my hand back, scooping up a handful. By the time we’d reach the lagoon there’d be but one left.

Instead I remember my Dad. How he’d buy a bag and sit out by the lagoon all evening, a stem in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. He’d toss them into his open mouth then wash them down with a gulp, every Friday afternoon. When in our rented apartment across from the Geary Street Auto Repair, he’d sit watching TV, holding them at his waist, his eyes red. The last time we hugged, I wondered if there were any in the refrigerator. Maybe we could sit and eat them, looking out into the lagoon. I realized then that that nobody had bought grapes that week. Like the lagoon, they were gone.

In my house they are everywhere. In a painting on the dining room wall, lying on the kitchen table, on the cover of our daily cookbook. No matter how I try to forget how we left them in a pile by the gutter at the park, or how the wine was finished before them at the beach, I can’t. Before, we would tear a branch of our life to tell about, afraid of taking too much. Now we use the grape shears.





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