I liked how the starry blue lid
of that saucepan lifted and puffed,
then settled back on a thin
hotpad of steam, and the way
her kitchen filled with the warm,
wet breath of apples, as if all
the apples were talking at once,
as if they’d come cold and sour
from chores in the orchard,
and were trying to shoulder in
close to the fire. She was too busy
to put in her two cents’ worth
talking to apples. Squeezing
her dentures with wrinkly lips,
she had to jingle and stack
the bright brass coins of the lids
and thoughtfully count out
the red rubber rings, then hold
each jar, to see if it was clean,
to a window that looked out
through her back yard into Iowa.
And with every third or fourth jar
she wiped steam from her glasses,
using the hem of her apron,
printed with tiny red sailboats
that dipped along with leaf-green
banners snapping, under puffs
or pale applesauce clouds
scented with cinnamon and cloves,
the only boats under sail
for at least two thousand miles.
From Delights and Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004). Copyright © 2004 by Ted Kooser. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Rain hazes a street cart's green umbrella but not its apples, heaped in paper cartons, dry under cling film. The apple man, who shirrs his mouth as though eating tart fruit, exhibits four like racehorses at auction: Blacktwig, Holland, Crimson King, Salome. I tried one and its cold grain jolted memory: a hill where meager apples fell so bruised that locals wondered why we scooped them up, my friend and I, in matching navy blazers. One bite and I heard her laughter toll, free as school's out, her face flushed in late sun. I asked the apple merchant for another, jaunty as Cezanne's still-life reds and yellows, having more life than stillness, telling us, uncut, unpeeled, they are not for the feast but for themselves, and building strength to fly at any moment, leap from a skewed bowl, whirl in the air, and roll off a tilted table. Fruit-stand vendor, master of Northern Spies, let a loose apple teach me how to spin at random, burn in light and rave in shadows. Bring me a Winesap like the one Eve tasted, savored and shared, and asked for more. No fool, she knew that beauty strikes just once, hard, never in comfort. For that bitter fruit, tasting of earth and song, I'd risk exile. The air is bland here. I would forfeit mist for hail, put on a robe of dandelions, and run out, broken, to weep and curse — for joy.
"Apples" from The Broken String by Grace Schulman. Copyright © 2007 by Grace Schulman. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.
I will eat the apple
read Stephen’s note this morning.
He is volunteering to play Eve.
He wrote, I will eat the apple
—but there are no apples in the house.
We have no lascivious Honeycrisp,
no bonny Braeburn, no upright Baldwin.
We’re out of spry Granny Smiths,
the skulking Northern Spy,
or the mysterious Pink Lady.
Stephen does have an Adam’s apple
and I have an Apple computer,
but you can’t compare apples and oranges.
The note said, I will eat the apple.
Perhaps Stephen’s chasing out the doctors.
Perhaps he’s not falling far from the tree.
Or he’s already eaten from the tree of knowledge:
in Latin, malum means both apple
and evil. I think Stephen is sending a warning.
He means, I will protect you.
He writes, I will eat the apple.
Copyright © 2017 by Kim Roberts. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 10, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
straight off the blade she hands it over her small hand the long peel for divination the long peel hissing like a boa constrictor how long it must take to dress the daughter in all of her gathers & kirtles & caps her pinafore pockets full of oyster shells yes what she can't see what hurts her eyes & like a genre painting I'll include the image of another painting or a mirror or a dog how Vermeer preferred women working alone how this also uses natural light in an otherwise unlit interior when the old woman peels apples she's surrounded by circles & keeps her book in good light & when she is young it's a rich brocade steady hands a hairband & a little jut of thought in her jaw (see also dutch quiet )
The trees alongside the fence
bear fruit, the limbs and leaves speeches
to you and me. They promise to give the world
back to itself. The apple apologizes
for those whose hearts bear too much zest
for heaven, the pomegranate
for the change that did not come
soon enough. Every seed is a heart, every heart
a minefield, and the bees and butterflies
swarm the flowers on its grave.
The thorn bushes instruct us
to tell our sons and daughters
who carry sticks and stones
to mend their ways.
The oak tree says to eat
only fruits and vegetables;
the pine says to eat all the stirring things.
My neighbor left long ago and did not hear
any of this. In a big country
the leader warns the leader of a small country
there must be change or else.
Birds are the same way, coming and going,
wobbling thin branches.
The warblers express pain, the crows regret,
or is it the other way around?
The mantra today is the same as yesterday.
We must become different.
The plants must, the animals,
and the ants and worms, just like the carmakers,
the soap makers before them,
and the manufacturers of rubber
and the sellers of tea, tobacco, and salt.
Such an ancient habit, making ourselves new.
My neighbor looks like my mother
who left a long time ago
and did not hear any of this.
Just for a minute, give her back to me,
before she died, kneeling
in the dirt under the sun, calling me darling
in Arabic, which no one has since.
Copyright © 2015 by Hayan Charara. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.