The Apology

by Claire Crowther

Mosquitoes charged me with their sour sugar
outside the vinegar house. Six years, ten years,
sixty, it ferments from oak to juniper
to chestnut to cherry and back to oak wood barrels,
balsamic vinegar separating itself
from a hundred-year-old mother sediment.

Breathe in through the unstoppered hole.
Smell it changing. This is immortality
but that sweet vinegar didn’t comfort my ill friend.
She hovered towards my slight sore throat.
I shouldn’t have let her low immunity near me.
My virus would order us differently:

her life for one ciao, and down she goes
to that atomic level, eternal future,
for which our short lengthening time ferments us.
Next day I said to my body
(my body thinks my voice is God):
‘You handle poison too well.

Your itch denies my taste for eternity,
it’s anciently made.’ Then my body says,
‘I’m giving you time.’ So I called to say sorry.