a person, a tree, a hauntable object

by E.B. Schnepp

We were standing in the super market parking lot when Georgie bore a peach tree from her belly button. Ankles awash in amniotic, I asked who the father was and she just smiled, lay down and dissolved into tissue paper, the beginnings of a bird nest, but the tree still stood. Free of its mother’s body it took root, carving a place for itself in asphalt between neat yellow lines. Georgie’s tissue paper corpse was blown away before she saw a lone peach blossom and burst on the branch. The fruit grew heavy quickly and I caught it before the pavement could: soft, warmed from the rapid birth. Delivered of this burden, the tree too crumpled, or was claimed by sky, leaving just another pothole in the parking lot, indistinguishable from every other. This end witnessed, its fruit salvaged, I walked home.

Haunted by this small thing in my palm, I stroked peach-fuzz and marveled at its over-ripe color. Instinct was all that stopped me from biting into its flesh. Instead, I twisted its skin, letting the juice run from cupped fingers to the floor, where it stained the rug bloody. I let its meat fall too, until all I held was a walnut-sized seed, it’s heavy pulp pit—this I swallowed whole and found myself round with another woman’s child, a paper woman, yes, but a woman nonetheless. She’d carried this small beast, let its birth rupture her, and now she was mine. I knew the child to be a she, only girl-children appear from the sudden eruption of a peach tree. Had it been a blackberry bramble, things would have been different.

E.B. Schnepp currently resides in Indiana. Their work can also be found in Ninth Letter, Longleaf, and Up the Staircase, among others.


Artwork by: Pawel Czerwinksi