After reading this latest post in the Eating and Drinking Poems series, you may want to grab a basket and go apple picking!
Before moving to Florida, I lived for six years in Massachusetts near where John Chapman—better known as Johnny Appleseed—grew up. By September and certainly the beginning of October, a nip in the air warned of coming snows and most everybody bundled up in sweaters and wool hats. On autumn weekends people often drove to nearby orchards to pick apples.
Cars would pull into the gravel drives and out-of-towners would flock to grab baskets for gathering apples. The locals would shake their heads at the mad rush toward the orchard and say, “Do they think the trees are gonna run away?”
By the end of the day, sore from picking apples and chasing children through the orchard, the newcomers would sit among the locals, sipping glasses of hard cider and listening to outrageous stories of John Chapman or other local characters.
This fall, eat an apple and enjoy the slowing of the seasons, whether the leaves turn in your part of the country or not. And as you do, consider the poem by Dorianne Laux: “A Short History of the Apple.”
A Short History of the Apple
The crunch is the thing, a certain joy in
Through living tissue, a memory of
– EDWARD BUNYAN, The Anatomy of Dessert, 1929
Teeth at the skin. Anticipation.
Then flesh. Grain on the tongue.
Eve’s knees ground in the dirt
of paradise. Newton watching
gravity happen. The history
of apples in each starry core,
every papery chamber’s bright
bitter seed. Woody stem
an infant tree. William Tell
and his lucky arrow. Orchards
of the Fertile Crescent. Bushels.
Fire Blight. Scab and powdery mildew.
Cedar apple rust. The apple endures.
Born on the wild rose, of crab
The first pip raised in Kazakhstan.
Snow White with poison on her lips.
The buried blades of Halloween.
Budding and grafting. John Chapman
in his tin pot hat. On Westward
expansion. Apple pie. American
as. Hard Cider. Winter banana.
Melt-in-the-mouth made sweet
by hives of Britain’s honeybees:
white man’s flies. O eat. O eat.
Browse more Eating and Drinking Poems
Browse more Poets and Poems
“Delicate, suggestive, clever.” —Carl Sharpe, editor ofVerseWrights
- Eating and Drinking Poems: WendellBerry’s “Fall” - October 24, 2014
- Eating & Drinking Poems: Dorianne Laux’s “A Short History of the Apple” - September 12, 2014
- Eating and Drinking Poems: May Swenson’s “Strawberrying” - August 8, 2014