Esopus Spitzenberg, 1927

By mid-October, there are so few from the old
yard left, those leaf-bright orbs, here yellow
and russet, wind-stroked but wormfree:
apples. Even the word is firm
on your tongue, tart, oversweet and old.

You’re hungry.

They go like this: one, for when you fell
out of the tree, every fruit loosen’d
from your grasp by the time you bent
over a broken wrist. You were
eight. No, younger. This fruit is cool
to the core; so good.

And oh, two: the day you saw the depth
of your father’s ache. He wouldn’t last
a year. Three for all the exams
you passed without having heeded
the lecture, and four for the baby’s
breath shed from your double breast

like all this world’s long, tired days,
every bough bent as a burrow. The fifth
is for the road. Weigh it in your palm, shroud
it with warm fingers; save it for a while. Think
on green-white flesh pocketed by seeds: dark
arsenic hearts naturally formed, and knowing.Gwen Wille lives and works in West Chester, PA. She studied writing at the University of New Mexico. Her work has appeared in Crow Toes Quarterly, Writers’ Bloc, previously in Philadelphia Stories, and others.

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