by Grace Li
When the last of the winter
coats are boxed away and carried
up to the attic, it is almost time,
according to my father,
to buy Chinese pears.
Once, around this time, he enlisted me
in joining him to the Asian Food on Oak Tree
Road, where the aisles of fruit
now were replaced with cardboard barrels
pedestaled on wooden pallets
brimming with pears.
My job was to hold the bag open
and occasionally swat away flies
also competing for a taste
of this vernal bounty.
My father’s, it seemed,
was to select a pear
or two or three,
turn it over and toss it back into the pool.
But, when he deemed one worthy of a second glance,
a second rotation in his hand,
he would turn to me—at the ready—
and lower it into the bag
like an infant into a bassinet
and I finally understood
the nickname for these precious fruits:
Grace Li is from New Jersey and lives in Brooklyn. She has a BA in English from Rutgers University and is currently an editor in NYC. She is the recipient of the 2016 Academy of American Poets College Prize, and has been published in The Anthologist and Ant vs. Whale.