We'd wandered deep into the trees that day,
past Jonagolds and Empires to the plain
as paper McIntosh that bruises easily,
is not much for longevity, with its soft flesh.
My daughter wore the sturdy cotton dress
with apples on it and sleeves that snapped.
My mother picked it out at the summer
craft fair, the tumor growing like a fruit
in her pancreas then, but it hadn't revealed
itself yet, wasn't ripe. Her stomach still
white, not yet full of purple blossoms.
In the photo, my husband lifts our daughter
to the branches, cheeks chill, arms reaching—
while out of frame, death bit into my mother.