Row by row
the McIntosh explode
their small green balls
to ripeness red, and
well into November you
can pick a brimming bushel

crisp and tart
for eating out of hand
or mellowed sweet
for winter’s festive pies.

Wander down
one orchard aisle and up
the next, reach and gently
twist the globe of fruit
catching your eye. It will
give-in to your cupped hand.

the bite-marked spoils
refused by other pickers
slowly rot and sink
in grass grown long enough
to shelter passing snakes.
Watch where you step.

Wired handles
press deep into flesh
lifting the heft of a full basket
as the judgement must begin.
The flawed are fated
for the sauce or cider press.
The prettier will be sold.

No bad thing should be left
among the good. It takes
just one, touching its wound
to another, and another
for the ruination of them all
…as we are often told.

54 responses »

  1. Oh wow, this is good, Cynthia. I love the poem–and I remember the satisfaction of making my own applesauce. I have a number of great recipes for cakes using applesauce, or fresh apples–incredibly yummy. And then there’s always Apple Crisp–oooooooh!

      • Although I LOVE pie, ‘specially apple, I’m totally useless at baking them (can’t do a decent crust and despise the commercial ones)–so I stick to cakes. Romanian Apple Cake–hmm, maybe I should google that one.

          • Oh yeah–I always tweak with more cinnamon (and I love clove, so I add extra to pumpkin recipes); and butter–but of course!! Do you have the recipe you spoke of, and do you share?

                • ROMANIAN APPLE CAKE

                  5 apples, peeled and cored
                  3 eggs
                  1-1/2 cups sugar
                  3/4 cup melted butter
                  1 tsp. Baking soda
                  2 tsp. ground cinnamon
                  1 Tbs. Vanilla extract
                  2 cups all-purpose flour
                  3/4 cup chopped walnuts

                  1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C) Grease & flour 9×13 inch pan.
                  Cut apples into 1-inch wedges, set aside
                  2. In a large bowl whisk eggs & sugar until blended. Mix in the
                  Baking soda, butter. Cinnamon, vanilla. Stir in flour just until
                  Incorporated. Fold in apples and walnuts.
                  3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 55 minutes or until
                  toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow
                  to cool slightly. May be served warm or at room temperature.
                  (I sometimes add a drizzle of simple icing [water & confectioners’
                  sugar] over the top.)

    • Oh yes, I do…all the old horror stories the nuns used to tell us,—to keep us pure and fresh, and sinless—about bad companions….I could read you the Rumford, Maine phonebook….it’s not terribly thick….

  2. Another crisp beauty, and definitely not one for the sauce!
    You brought back some great memories too, of when the children were small and we would devote a day or two to harvest the bramleys off our tree in the garden. They used to get so excited, (the children, not the apples, although I never consulted them to see how they felt 😊); was a joy to see. I love your description of the picking of one apple, twisting the globe of fruit…That is exactly how it is!
    Fabulissimo! 😊

    • The nice thing about harvesting apples is just what you bring to memory, Christine….that it can be a family affair even small children can enjoy…we have lots of “pick your own” farms around here, and it’s a great fall ritual!

  3. One rotten apple can ruin all… I love this poem, the rhythm and the walk through the orchard, I can smell the fruit πŸ™‚ Our apple tree had many apples last year, this year just the one. We always think it is dead, but every time it suprises us. (I wonder if an apple tree is masculin or feminine, so I could call “it ” by its gender, I should look that up) πŸ™‚ ❀

    • Well, Ina, it’s a boy in French (le pommier) and in German (der Apfelbaum) but I don’t know if that’s so, everywhere….and your apple tree reminds me of one I know…some years on, and some years off….like life, and the weather, and us… ❀

  4. If you read this with classical topoi in mind, you see basketfuls of well-turned sententiae.An approving senate awaits you, Cynthia.

  5. Ah Cynthia, resembles a bit of life too . . . but oh this is fantastic as it takes me back to the apple orchards I grew up around, with all those luscious Macintosh. I’d one of those kids after school wandering the orchards looking for the best apple to pick (usually yellow delicious) for my afternoon snack. Really love the fine detail and imagery you’ve draw with your words – I can see a poem about the rotten apple turning into the sweet nectar of cider. Very cool to read this first thing ~

  6. And she did it again – a delightful autumn poem crammed with memories and bursting with imagery. I am sitting here craving an apple but we ate the last one yesterday, we will have to go shopping. I’m with your other followers – I enjoyed reading their comments and your responses. Gosh, after another reading I can even smell the apple orchard – we will have to go to the store tonight.

    • Yes! There are usually suburban orchards/farms that let you meander and pick your own apples…they give you a container and you pay when you leave, but meanwhile you can wander and pick to your heart’s content…and it’s easy; apple trees aren’t generally very tall….You’d like it, Sweetie!

  7. Pingback: Apples | Sweet as a Picture

  8. wonderful piece! apples have always seemed very homey and comfortable to me – probably thinking of the baked apples my mom used to make stuffed with brown sugar and raisins πŸ™‚

  9. Hi Cynthia, Fantastic imagination.,for the last 20 years my wife and l we go to the apple orchards in the mountains to pick our apples,We spend they at Glen Oak village.Warm regards.

  10. I loved this poem. It evoked my own memories of apple picking in upstate New York and I thought for a moment you were talking back to Robert Frost. But as so often your poem has a little turn–a sardonic twist and a little jab–and the apple basket becomes an allegory for human society.

    Thank you!

    • You know, sometimes I myself think I’m talking back to Robert Frost. It might be something about the climate…social as well as meteorological….here in New England. Also, we both have white hair.

      I love your comment, Natalie. Thanks!

  11. Hello Cynthia, there is a lot of depth and simplicity in this poem, sensuality with theology, psychology. A delicious poem. I enjoyed it. It could be about apples, but it could also be about other things…that fall willingly into a cupped hand…perhaps. It has that “air” for me. Any poem with apples…

    I’ll pass on the recipe for Armenian Orange Cake, since I know you also like Oranges ; ) It is a truly satisfying cake! One of my fav’s.

    Here is a link to the recipe:
    And there are some lovely images, too, if you google it.

    Is it American Thanksgiving?

    • “Anything with apples…” spot on, Anna!..It can be many things…or just simple apple picking, if that’s what’s wanted. πŸ™‚

      (I”ve gone to your link for the Armenian Orange Cake…that also looks like a winner..I” m going to try it, thanks!
      These kinds of simple, rich cakes are the best. The ultimate in sophisticated simplicity in my own repertoire is the Italian, Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake!)

      Yes, our Thanksgiving is this coming Thursday, the 27th……the holiday hoopla begins and will not abate now, until January….

  12. “One rotten apple spoils the bunch” seems so animal life-like where a contagious disease can be passed on and on. Wonder if it applies to apples though they get a bad name for it.

    • To tell the truth, I’ve never witnessed that contagion in apples….but that aphorism seems so old and so universal…maybe it was always metaphorical, and never actually happened. It’s usually referring to people, and that sense of infection—more animal-like than plant-like—pervades, which is probably why I chose the word “wound” rather than some other word.

  13. I love this descriptive poem, Cynthia! A dear old friend of mine has had a large apple orchard for decades. I’ll have to save this for her. (I did shudder at the thought of snakes hidden by the grass though! πŸ™‚ )

    • What bothers me about snakes is how they startle you…suddenly they’re there, swiftly slithering across your path..they’re sneaky..or snakey….I totally don’t understand people who keep them as pets….but if we have an apple tree in the story, we have to have a snake, right? Thanks for your nice comment, Betty

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s