The Damaged Ones
The supermarket shelves day-old bread, bruised fruit, and spotted vegetables, on a rack labelled Damaged at the back of the store, near the stinking storeroom doors. Shoppers yearn for waxed apples, tough grapes, unscented strawberries, not circling fruit flies, bananas ripened by avocado gas, stale loaves, shriveled tomatoes, wrinkled zucchini. They’ll take home the perfect plum, nestle it into a cool drawer, write a poem of apology when it’s eaten. But the damaged ones, no time left, their epitaphs blacken.
I consider the torn bag of limes straightjacketed in green tape, nothing wrong except the netting is frayed, one lime is soft, ready to rim a glass, follow a shot, spoon a foil-wrapped taco. Bunches of browning bananas, blackening avocado, spotted eggplant, oozing syrupy peaches, oranges dropped and rolled, ripe, ready before they’re bought. I’m tempted to bite the yellow pepper.
I’m damaged, too. I know the stinking world, bruises, fraying. How could I not, with a father in prison, and a grandmother whose love was bleach and soap, heavy-ringed fingers, loose tongue: All men want is sex. Her love re-netted me, toughened my soft parts, re-shelved me with the undamaged: Hold your head high. No one will ever know you’re a rapist’s daughter. It’s You against Them, beat Them every time. And at my peak, ripped me open, exposed my cold bones and mealy heart, held it to my mouth so I could bite.