And in those days, I was broken from dreams
on hard, white mornings to whip the thickets,
flush a bird or two, and drop
before the shot sizzled by overhead.
Midday, we’d crest a hill
crowned with the Albemarle pippins
King George so loved, it’s said
he took his taxes from the trees—
a cue ball of an apple still growing free
on shaggy limbs no one had pruned for years.
A country then with forgotten groves of gamey fruit—
you’d poke the big blade of a jackknife
below its rusted skin, twist,
and up popped a white chip,
a severed tang, with the sound
of parchment crisply ripping.
It lay on the tongue like hoarfrost,
its aftertaste sour and defiant. . .
Its seeds were hard as flint,
and the grass below as dry as tinder.