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.