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Cherry | C.E. Oldham

We pluck expertly

with our teeth. Prying this

sweet opaque from its stem.

Our hands, a crime scene.

We smile at each other,

mouths full of gore.


Everyone is born

with the ability to swallow.

My birthright, a stone. To sink

to scrape esophagus.


My father rips flesh from pit,

spitting out the pebble.

He laughs at me,

the joke I took as fact.


A cherry tree is going to grow in your belly.


This is the first time I cried

about becoming an orchard.

His sticky fingers wipe

the juice away.


Maraschino suspended in syrup.

The plastic fruit cup sits untouched

on his tray.

Everything he swallows

makes him sick.

The feeding tube couldn’t have tasted

like paper bag cherries,

bought with cash on the side

of the gravel road.

Everyone is born

with the ability to swallow.

And isn’t that the worst joke?

That we can lose something

we were born with?


C.E. Oldham (they/them) is full of curiosity and a love for poetry, speculative fiction, and fantasy. They graduated from Long Beach State in 2023 with a BA in English Creative Writing. Oldham currently lives in the Bay Area, and is a creative writing MA student at San Francisco State. You can follow their misadventures on Instagram @c.e.oldham



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