I do not notice that stars flicker until I am twenty-seven and already a mother.
Earlier today, we had traipsed through the local apple orchard with our baby on my hip, feeling domestic and folksy as we crushed rotten fruit underfoot, seeking hidden gems. You were growing frustrated at brown spots, holes, and lopsidedness, thinking there were hardly any good ones, declaring your preference for supermarket apples.
“The supermarket isn’t real life,” I replied, but then again, the orchard isn’t either.
Now the baby sleeps. The three-pound paper bag cradles plump honeygolds on the chipped kitchen countertop. Fruit flies buzz around the bag, the full trashcan, the wet sink. We sip whiskey and suck ice on the back porch of our rental, watching a quaint valley darken and invite the bats to dinner.
“Of course stars flicker!” You say, gently teasing. “What do you think the song Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star is about?”
I guess I never looked long enough. I gaze upward to seek Ursa Major, the only constellation I know how to find—there! Nuzzled in a great, black blanket, interrupted by batwing amongst dazzles of red, yellow, and white, the colors of diamonds and apples.
Suddenly, I realize that most of the honeygolds will turn mushy and soft before we eat them all, and I will throw most of them away, and that’s what real life is.
I will be the one to trap and kill the fruit flies, the one who takes the apple cider vinegar down from the cupboard and mixes it with a drop of dish soap in a glass cup.
Now a piece of space rock burns in the atmosphere.
The baby stirs, fussing and hungry.
I cannot shake the feeling that I will soon be very old.
Chel Campbell is a poet from Sioux Falls, South Dakota whose work appears or is forthcoming in The MacGuffin, Kitchen Table Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Still: The Journal, and elsewhere. She is currently seeking a home for her master’s thesis: a poetry manuscript titled EVERYTHING WE NAME IS PRECIOUS. She likes to share what she writes, draws, and grows on Instagram @hellochel.
Photography by: Daniel Lloyd Blunk-Fernández