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This poem was featured on NPR's "All Things Considered."

poem from January Thaw
by Bruce Guernsey

The Apple

So this is the fruit that made us all human.
So this is the fruit we reached for and got.
So this is the fruit that ripens in autumn.

I envy your eye.
Knowing roundness,
you put an apple in a bowl,
curve into curve
like lovers.

you sliced the green ones for pie,
steaming like morning on the sill.

the apple I eat to keep you away
is the shape, the weight of a heart.

Long before the child, reaching up to pick,
before the ladder in the branches,
long before the tree, full in our yard,
a farmer rests in the shade of his team.

Their dark sides shine.
In summer's last heat,
in the field's long work,
the apple he's saved
is cold on his teeth.

Shine an apple on your pants.
Make the apple genie dance.

Rub him, rub him, into life.
Ask him for a pretty wife.

And for children I'd ask next,
talismans for the witch's hex.

One more wish is all that's left.
Beg him for eternal breath.

a seed rocks
in each tiny cradle.

Like blood,
in the air an apple

images by Victoria Woollen-Danner

Copyright Bruce Guernsey. All rights reserved.