Kimberly Kralowec

I Knew the Flavor of Apple, but Not Its Sweetness

A year east of today, the word ash was singular. I had not
yet decided to spend lockdown cleaning out the garage,
or found the garbage bag of tattered blankets, once
my grandmother’s. Too dirty and worn to think of using,
or even donating, my choices were keep or trash. For twenty
years, I chose keep after keep. I spent time digging in planters.
Flowers I thought were wilted were covered in ash.
My hands bruised where I touched them. Later I forgot
and thought it was dirt, but it wouldn’t scrub off.
We humans and our sad little labors. The trees decide
what stains, as does fire inside the trunks. When she died
I asked my dad if all flags were lowered for her,
and he told me the truth. What famous death
had I heard of at that age? All I can know, right now,
is the dropping of cloth to the ground, plural as ash.

Kimberly Kralowec is the author of The Saplings Think of Us as Young (Kelson Books, 2023) and a
chapbook, We retreat into the stillness of our own bones (Tolsun Books, 2022). Her poetry appears in
journals such as The Shore, wildness, Twyckenham Notes, and The Inflectionist Review, and she was recently
named a finalist in the River Styx International Poetry Contest. A California native and a lawyer by
profession, she lives in San Francisco. Find her at