Rose-Hip Season

When the light frost settles
we go out picking.

Down the morning veil
of the hill we go

down to rows of shrubs,
red-bulbed, neon

in the slow autumn crawl.
We pluck peduncles of each hip,

and fill our baskets. They,
like angels with sepal wings,

lie limp. But still something
is alive in their death,

inside their opaque skins,
seeds, uncrushed by our hands.

She tells me of 1946
when she was ten,

mimics with her hands
what happened in the barn,

how she survived:
one hand high

milking the teat of a cow,
the other low,

sweeping the gun under the hay.
I was lucky, she says,

to be raised a boy, so
it didn’t matter what they did,

it doesn’t matter now.
We go out picking when

she tells me stories like these
as her fingers squeeze

each hip, and their seeds
beat behind her stone skin.