My Sister, Who Died Young, Takes Up The Task

A basket of apples brown in our kitchen,
their warm scent is the scent of ripening,

and my sister, entering the room quietly,
takes a seat at the table, takes up the task

of peeling slowly away the blemished skins,
even half-rotten ones are salvaged carefully.

She makes sure to carve out the mealy flesh.
For this, I am grateful. I explain, this elegy

would love to save everything. She smiles at me,
and before long, the empty bowl she uses fills,

domed with thin slices she brushes into
the mouth of a steaming pot on the stove.

What can I do? I ask finally. Nothing,
she says, let me finish this one thing alone.

Jon Pineda, "My Sister, Who Died Young, Takes Up The Task" from The Translator’s Diary. Copyright © 2008 by Jon Pineda.  Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press.
Source: The Translator's Diary (New Issues Press, 2008)
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