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Wild Apples

ISSUE:  Summer 1993
The tree is old, hidden behind
a veil of Virginia creeper,
the apples astringent, misshapen,
green with red tiger stripes,
misguided adornment or miracle
in the logged-over third or fourth or fifth growth
along the creek. I gather a few windfalls,
too hard to bruise,
as I pass from nowhere to nowhere.

If I had roots I would put them down here.
Living roots, roots with feeling.
The apples are placed on the windowsill
where they can see out-
morning windows, sun coming out of the woods,

How freely it floats before the clouds,
then willingly enters them.
And my daughter, scowling all day,
how she smiles when her friends come for her.

The hard brown boys find the apple tree
on one of their patrols
and load up on ammo.
One apple penetrates the storm window
but not the sash, and so glass separates
the curiously reunited offspring of the tree-
the litter brought together as dogs-
while the boys have of course scattered,
careening downhill on their bent bicycles.
The unburdened tree stands straighter,

smoothing the wrinkled skirt.
After all these years, some time apparently remains,
another evening, another autumn,
a tender half inch of growth on each arthritic branch.
Apples lie soft and brown in the underbrush,
waste and redundancy, windowsill apples
sitting on their weeping mold.

Once you took my picture under this very tree.
I was holding the child, who was holding wild apples.
Fourteen months, I wrote on the back.

She and I both looked pale after that first intense year,
milky, like the edge of the sky,
slightly translucent, slightly grave.
She was mine. She didn’t belong to herself then.
It was September, just as it is now,
the sun listing to the south,
the hill’s shadow crossing me at the knee.


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