His voice scratches
against my ears, scraping for the apples
hidden with the splinters at a barrel's base.

I watch his lips contort, jaw moving
up and down, down and up. Where,
now, is the ventriloquist?

Some small flying insect darts
across the face of the lamp, hanging
low and heavy like overripe fruit from the
orchard lying in abandon at
the close of summer.

Boy-sized shapes undeterred
by the barbed wire, stalked
as they liked, exploring how many
different patterns peach juice
could dry on their cheeks.

Sticky marks of sweat mar
the pristine paper, beneath his
hand compelled, like wavelets
advancing over sand, to creep, to
push at my fingertips.

I pull back, touching the crown
of my head marked
by the door knob, heat expanding into
the linoleum kitchen, I gave my mother
a grin stuffed with peach pits.

Standing, I pull the curtains open
and see my neighbour's fence palely
outlined against the rising
dream of blurred leaves and branches.