In verse: Maine places and people

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Produced by Dennis Camire

This week’s poem is by former Maine State Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl of Portland.

 

Apple

By Betsy Sholl

 

Crisp air, press of ladder rung on instep,

tree sway and dappled light. Then stem twist

and the weight of apple in hand—

 

reaching through that leafy light, did we ask

what else we were after? Some desire

to possess the whole splendid day, sun glint

 

on grass, September’s slow withdrawal,

the drying leaves sparse now, so the apples

were little flames. Strange that we make

 

one fruit both medicine and poison,

prescribed and forbidden, as if everything’s

mixed, and there’s no forgetting that darker

 

hunger at work, blind to the damage it does,

ego’s bad apple, poison in the star

and gravity, gravity, gravity.

 

But then windfalls in wet grass—paradox

of fortune—how sweet for the bees and wasps

who find the cores warmed by the sun

 

into a heady liquor, and sip. Once

we had a wooden apple made with such skill,

more than one person picked it up

 

thinking to bite, until our dog finally did.

We found it under the couch, splintered

and pocked, and with stern voices banished him

 

to the yard. As if once down the stairs

he wouldn’t happily enter that bright world

of rock and dirt, nuthatch, beetle, squirrel.

 

Dennis Camire can be reached at [email protected]

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