DON’T SWALLOW THE PIPS

Sophie Clarke’s poem provides a literal tribute to the old wives’ tale that claims a swallowed apple pip will grow in your stomach. Illustration by Zoe Regoczy.

White as knuckles, shoots grip down
in soft pink beds. They plait thinly
over moist, warm organs, until I can’t tell
what is vein and what is root.

Twigs snap. Thick branches break
into the curvature of my ribs, my spine wizens
into trunk. A whole ecosystem heaves
under a canopy of lungs and leaves –

I fear I will be a laughing stock.
What use is a doctor with these ailments
I can’t speak of? My tongue is gashed
black bark, I choke on clumps

of mulch. And each morning I wake
to fistfuls of flora at my ears,
the miniature disaster of my nose
sprouting birdsong.


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