How Far

by Catherine Conroy

“My neighbor’s cherry tree was a mighty temptation. I wasn’t supposed to climb that tree. If I did, I’d have to go to confession. If I ate cherries it compounded my sin. My priest would give me a lot of prayers to say as my penance. the tree was loaded with plump red fruit. It was too much to resist.

“I slipped outside into the sunshine, looked around, double-checking that no one had appeared while I couldn’t see them. Assured that I was alone, I shinnied up the coarse dark tree and pulled myself along thick limbs. Sticky gum oozed out of knurled nubs and streaked my shorts. The limbs jutted out to cherry-filled branches. I looked across the alley to my house and the row of back porch windows, no one there. I snuggled into the arms of the tree, reached out and took cherries from here and there, eating some, but not enough to create a noticeable hole of missing fruit. Cherry juice mingled with black smudges that clung to my hands from the sap on the limbs, but I didn’t mind. The taste of the cherries would linger longer than the time it took to wash my hands.

“One more bunch of cherries enticed me. They hung further out than I had gone before. I inched forward. the branch bowed beneath me. If I edged forward a smidgeon further on the slender branch, I might reach the fruit beyond my outstretched fingertips.”

Catherine is one of eight In Print members to have her work featured at the Allegory Project, an art space and exhibition co-sponsored by the Art Matters Artist Coop and the Rockford Area Arts Council. The Allegory Project plans to have a theme that is explored in various art forms: painting and sculpture, photography, repurposed objects, and the spoken and written word. The current theme answers the question, “What makes a story worth telling?”

Catherine’s piece and the others have been framed at the gallery and are available for viewing from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday through the end of May. The show space is on the northwest corner of Madison and Prairie Streets in Rockford.