Sunday, October 3, 2010
Thomas Jefferson Apples
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.