At the raw end of winter
they could no longer wait through Spring
to take their melancholy daughter
to some lush summered place
where there was nothing to do
but float through sun-soaked days
or pick fruit in a grove
unlike their own crisp orchard.
It was dense, so sweet and hot
one could hardly breathe.
The trees-formidable as pregnant Amazons-
bung thick leaves clear to the ground,
hid utterly the heavy fruit.
then sent their only child up
into the dark interior.
Her slim legs (the last part to disappear) thrashed,
found footing, flushed a swallow-tailed butterfly
into bright light.
It lurched through liquid air,
simply drunk on the stuff,
resettled higher up.
They caught the swollen fruit tossed out one at a time
sticky, soiling their hands with black like newsprint
from smudge pots set to protect the trees
through their own hard winter.
"Enough," they finally called and watched
her emerge, an idealized vision of a chimney sweep.
Grinning. Her exhausted face streaked.