Back when we ate the apples
that the old man was saving for pies,
he hoarsed Hey you kids! from his porch
where he always sat upon the weathered Adirondack,
lording over yard and field.
–We ran from the tree,
through the old man’s lavender
which was indeed lovely,
and we ran clutching our treasure,
made our way to a neighboring pasture
upon which to laze our afternoon.
For years I’ve replayed the scene:
Old greybeard rising from his throne, leaning
heavy on the rail,
the running, the apples,
and you, breathless in the buttercups.
* * * * *
Back when I wrote "The Apples," I was working on a series of poems based on Bible stories or Christian iconography. "Monkey Flees" was my poem about the crucifixion. "The Apples" was one of several taken from Genesis: the Garden of Eden, the apple, Adam and Eve, etc. What I was trying to do in the series was to write poems that would work as religious texts if one saw them as such. I didn't want the poems to be dependent on the source material though. Over the years a few people have seen the postlapsarian connection, but usually it doesn't crop up. I'm completely okay with that.
A frequent comment about poems from the series was that they seemed like familiar stories from a dream that the reader couldn't quite remember (or something along those lines). I've always assumed that it was because the stories are familiar, but not quite appearing within the expected context. Anachronisms are a part of all these religious poems of mine, though I've always felt that the odd juxtapositions simply add richness to the interpretive possibilities of the narrative.
First published in:
THE FULCRUM: LITERATURE AND ARTS JOURNAL, Volume 8 Spring 2005