October 2017


          by Charles Pratt


The trees, I’m told, have stood here fifty years—

Bearers still. The motherly Cortlands, fat

As their dusky apples, cookers, firm in pies.

The Macs more upright, sparer, the apples—

This year, at least—scarcer, smaller, brighter,

Flecked with little lights. And the Wageners,

Bristling with apples from a thousand spurs,

The fruit a modest russet, turning as it ripens

To scarlet, apples from a Book of Hours.

Sweetness seethes from the press, foams

In the bucket; I turn with the handle

Under the mild October sun

That brings back summer, softened. Sun-yellow

Hornets, now, mellowed from when,

In August, the mower brought their stinging

Hubbub up from underground,

Nuzzle my sticky fingers, gentle as cows,

Swoon to that foaming sweetness where they drown.

Midnight, midwinter. Under the full moon

The trees, like twisting smoke, like rocks

Whorled by tides of air,

Stand stock-still in their shadows

On the new snow, precise and mysterious

As spiders on a linen tablecloth.

Arrested, I look out, investing

Them with the patient merit

And deliberate innocence I would learn of them.


From From the Box Marked Some Are Missing by Charles Pratt, Volume I of the Hobblebush Granite State Poetry Series, Hobblebush Books. Book available at http://www.hobblebush.com/product-page/from-the-box-marked-some-are-missing

Charles W. Pratt taught English for more than 25 years, mostly at Phillips Exeter Academy, before he and his wife, Joan, bought a small apple orchard in Brentwood, New Hampshire, and became apple-growers. In addition to From the Box Marked Some Are Missing, he has two previous collections, In the Orchard and Still Here.