"Red Delicious" by Jerome Ellison Murphy

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January 7, 2022 

Red Delicious

Jerome Ellison Murphy

       I used to eat
               her keen sight
                     and its laser
                            serrations
                surgical rotations
                            undressing
                          bone-white
                   in clockwise
                  countdown
                   around a
            prenatal core
                       its cyanide
                                 unborn
                          this unsung
                       artist carving 
                        her curving
                       relief as if
              by a craving
            of curvature
                 itself for
            conclusion:
                       or else
                            of some
                                rondure
                                   so sheer                                              
                                 as to molt
                                    its skin
                                of matter
                           turn after
                             turn on
                   the unseen                              
               potter’s lathe
               of unmaking:
                thumb-spun
                 by a suddenly
                       unknowable Eve
                           who might soon
                                          no longer
                                            deign to
                                           receive
                                    the name
                                  Mother

Copyright © 2022 by Jerome Ellison Murphy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 7, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“Our adult guardians are the first deities we encounter. There’s an uncanniness to their environmental agency, and to their skills that seem, in early life, beyond our own capacity. Here, as in the poem ‘Our Mothers’ Hands,’ I write about refractions of identity visible in a simple physical act, peeling an apple with hypnotic precision, which occurs somewhere along a spectrum of creative and destructive impulse. Witnessing the mother both making and unmaking, the child suddenly questions their own centrality. It turns out motherhood is only one aspect of this creative self—and how nurturing, how safe, is any artist, at heart?”
Jerome Ellison Murphy

Jerome Ellison Murphy is a Black and East Asian poet who holds an MFA from the Creative Writing Program at New York University, where he currently serves as undergraduate programs manager.​
“Farmers Market” by Claudia Castro Luna
read more
“Einstein’s Mother” by Tracy K. Smith
read more

Thanks to Joseph O. Legaspi, author of Threshold (CavanKerry Press, 2017), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Listen to a Q&A about Legaspi’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year.
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