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Marionette

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I'm eight years old, and I stand at the kitchen counter
with a gnawed apple in my hand,
the edges beginning to rot,
the hips of the core, a chamber
with brown tear drops that peek through.
My father tells me,
as though he's reading a storybook,
"If you go outside and plant it,
it'll grow into an apple tree
taller than our house."
I glance through the dust-caked Venetian blinds
to our backyard
and break the core in half,
shake the seeds into the grooves of my palm.

I'm eighteen years old, and I lean against
the damp wooden rail
of the Boynton Beach Inlet,
which ribbons through the dark ocean
for miles.
It's the last week of summer.
The warm air nuzzles my bare legs,
and I ask my friend,
"Do you believe in God?
He tugs the sleeves of his striped hoodie
over his hands and stares at the boats,
balanced on the black horizon
like a page of a pop-up book.
"Nah. It's just a good story, you know?
A fairy tale.
Do you believe in it?"
I peel a splinter from the rail
and toss it towards the inky tarp of a sky
as though I could pop it.
"I don't think so.
If God's a fairy,
He hasn't sent much magic my way."
I let my hands fall limp over the rail
like a marionette,
and my eyes drop to the waves
that slow dance against the legs of the pier,
trying to discern my image
in the swell of their skirts.




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