by Christina Chandra
My daughter is a witch,
her black velvet skirt dragging along the sidewalk
in the cool fall dusk.
I am led down nostalgia’s path,
of nights as a princess, a superhero, some animal,
and Magenta from
The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
We stop at the shrub
on 23 Grove.
Its yellowing, falling leaves,
leaving behind claw-like shadows,
resurrects memories of a Himalayan trek.
the blue bean tree,
Dead Man’s Fingers.
I pick a blue ornament for my daughter.
I tell her a story.
I peel back the blue skin,
revealing black watermelon-like seeds
surrounded by white, gelatinous flesh.
‘This is how he was tortured,’ I say.
On the cold, moist mountain slope,
they tortured him.
His fingers severed,
hung limp on a tree.
as pink turned to blue and purple
with the easing of day into night.
I adorned the tree with tiny bells
resembling the racemes
of the fragrant flowers,
bowing down from the branches.
I kneeled beside him
as his breathing slowed.
The chimes were his final sounds
on the earth.
I buried him at the foot of the tree,
his appendages ultimately folding inwards
unlike the splayed limbs of the tree.
I prayed for him with
each pinnate, compound leaf layed
over the mound.
When dawn marked a new day,
I tasted the blue fruit for the first time.
It had a slight sweetness,
and I continued on my journey.
‘They look more like cat poop,’ she says.
So we carry on,
seeking treats sweeter and stickier
than the insipid pulp
of my beloved Dead Man’s Fingers.