Afternoon Poem, July 5, 2015



The Apple Trees



In the old photographs, the trees are in the background.

The entire church, some six hundred people, lining the sidewalks, stairs and porch

In nineteen thirty six.

Old men in suits with beards and fedoras

Women with floor-length skirts and elaborate hats

Boys in starched shirts, hair parted in the middle

Girls who did not smile.

And at the far edge of this panorama

Across a dirt road

An orchard, right there in the middle of town

It must have been August

The apples are fat on the trees behind

And the branches droop with them

These are not modern trees, not dwarfed

Not easily harvested

They are tall and spreading

Like old whiteoaks

Twenty feet, at least

And, here and there,

long ladders lean against the full, green heads of the trees.




There were orchards on this hill, too

Before the houses were built

Then the Weimer family owned the whole hillside

And kept milk-cows and chickens and hogs

I remember the last of the apple trees

In that wild section of land that the developers decided against

The remnant of orchard was lost in the new growth

Then surrounded and dwarfed by poplar, maple and oak.

We’d carry the hard, wormy fruit to the hilltop

Throw one in the air

And try to hit it with another.


Copyright 2015

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