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dream I had about a mother, a father, and an apple tree

By Katerina Malabarba

the house has cracks beneath its floors, roots creeping beneath from the grand old apple tree in the front—in the nursery, shadows of serpentine branches curl above an empty cradle. the father calls the baby's name: no response. in the kitchen, the mother cuts an apple, hands shaking along the lines of the cuts over her knuckles where she slipped seconds before—she distracts herself from her child's yawning absence to some degree of success. the pale peel curls with one edge blood red; the knife burrows into crisp flesh and hits a child's tooth. she rushes outside—the apple lies forgotten on its wooden cutting board, the knife stabbed deep into its mixture of white and red: teeth against inflamed gums—the father sprints at her heels; his axe swings like a scythe of wind against the apple tree, and their horror twists in their veins—each fruit glistens brighter, blood jewels strung too tight around a bark-brown throat—the mother's hands clench with the echo of the blade: a drum, a heartbeat. a creak and a rustle of branches and bark and the tree finds its new home pressed against ragged grass—and within, its hollow stump bathes in cold sunlight for the first time—the father feels his axe slip from his fingers and his eyes close, but the image remains—hundreds of babies' bones, crowded against the inside of blackened bark, ivory-clean—and beneath their quivering feet crawl roots, tendrils of a new reality.

October 2022: Teeth: Text
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