Produced by Dennis Camire

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



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]