Whose hands, this apple?
Whose hands touched this apple that I wash under filtered water?
My hands, scrubbing its rose-freckled skin.
The delivery shopper’s hands, picking it from the bin,
placing it in a bag, leaving it by our gate.
The checker’s hands, assessing its weight.
The produce stocker’s hands, setting it stem-side up.
Another man, with a label-gun, doing the follow-up.
A customer’s sticky hands, the hands of her kid,
think of the germs that might be hid
from view. Invisible. My hands scrub the apple
under filtered water. This is the fact with which I grapple:
the coronavirus lives 72 hours on a surface.
Still, I am grateful for the service
of the laborer who picked
this fruit as the work clock ticked
and the hands of the orchardist
who planted the tree in the mist
of an early spring morning in Washington,
or J.H. Kidd, horticulturalist, whose discovery, once begun,
led to this apple, in my hand, under running water, a red-freckled Gala.
I try to soothe my amygdala.
Whose hands? An apple a day,
now that my hair is gray,
adds to 21,900 pippins, red delicious, Macintosh
Granny Smith, ambrosia–oh my gosh
if each apple were touched by 50 hands
that’s thousands and thousands
and all the germs and the fingerprints
and all the skin oil and imprints
of feelings. Including the love that my mom and dad
felt for me. Remembering childhood apples, I don’t exactly feel sad.
It’s wistful, yeah, but it’s more the continuity.
I look at this shiny wet apple with ambiguity.
So many hands, to bring it to me.
All those feelings, soon to be inside me.
Whose hands touched this apple?
Daily Prompt: “write about a particular fruit – your choice,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.
Author’s note: While it is always good to wash produce thoroughly (see 10 Dirty Secrets from your Supermarket Produce Departments), one needn’t be overly concerned about disinfecting them (see No, You Don’t Need To Disinfect Your Groceries. But Here’s How To Shop Safely.) I still wash, wipe, and repackage my grocery deliveries, saying blessings for the Amazon Prime delivery shopper, the grocery store clerk, the produce stocker, the laborers who picked and packaged and trucked the produce, and for the bees, whose tiny hands helped pollinate the flowers, so I would have apples this day. Thank you, all the thousands of hands!