Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thomas Jefferson Apples

Jefferson’s Variety

Still on the trees, apples tough
as knuckles absorb the gloom.
The light over Fall Mountain
looks like the marbled endpapers
of a nineteenth-century book..

Biting into a wormy apple
called Thomas Jefferson after
its original grower, I taste
something cosmic, a distance
both sweet and bitter and only

faintly sour, a place far away
yet too familiar to fear. People
chat among the trees, swapping
hybrid apple stories, tasting
various non-forbidden fruits.

Pears and peaches, one plum tree
share the orchard plot. Chewing
Jefferson’s hybrid by myself
in the lukewarm atmosphere,
I lean against my shadow and trust

the shaggy grass to cushion me
if the light shifts and I fall.
The voices approach. Two friends
round the path and approach me.
I look as blasé as possible

and toss the core in a weed-pile
to compost for the future.
The orchard-keeper asks if I like
his favorite old variety. Yes,
yes, I like the way it complements

the sullen mountains, the sickly
but apologetic sky, the smell
of approaching rain; and the way
it nourishes a sense of loss
ornate as the laden trees.

The apples came from Morningstar Farm in Rockingham, Vermont. The photo overlooks Morningstar's pastures toward Fall Mountain in the distance.

Mushroom with Tiny Slug

This scene isn't as dramatic as the one Robert Frost described in "Design," but I thought it a pleasing composition.