Comfort Me with Apples

R.M. Kiel

Three weeks, they told her, it would take three weeks
to go on hunger-strike and starve to death.
They didn’t look at her while they were talking,
snapped the bedsheet tight across the mattress.
“What to lie down now?” they asked, indifferent,
then spread the blankets, piled on pillows, left.

Three weeks, she told her daughters and her son.
They telephoned each other, set a date,
Arrived en masse with husbands, wife and children,
at the retirement home where they had placed her,
to say goodbye, bringing farewell flowers.

No one had warned the friend of many years,
who, four days later, paid the monthly visit,
with purple grapes, yellow apricots,
the usual box of chocolate-covered nuts,
as if she’d want to live, and so she did,
unsettling daughters, son and families,
who wrote her back into their diaries.

R.M. Kiel taught English, public speaking, debating, and storytelling for many years. She has contributed to various teachers' journals, and edited a South African edition of Julius Caesar. R.M. Kiel’s work appeared in Tel Aviv Short Stories and Israel Short Stories.  She has been living in Israel since December 2002.

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