Poetry, VOLUME 3

Poem: “Apple-Year” by Liberty Hyde Bailey. [Vol. 3, #14]

Liberty Hyde Bailey

[ from Wind and Weather: Poems
Read the Book’s Intro ]

My last winter apple I ate today.
Shapely and stout in their modelled skins
Securely packed in my cellar bins
Two dozen good kinds of apple-spheres lay.

And today I went to my orchard trees
And picked me the first-ripe yellow fruits
That hung far out on the swinging shoots
In summer suns and the wonder-day breeze.

And thereby it was that the two years met
Deep in the heart of the ripe July
When the wheat was shocked and streams were dry;
And weather of winter stayed with me yet.

For I planted these orchard trees myself
On hillside slopes that belong to me
Where visions are wide and winds are free
That all the round year might come to my shelf.

And there on my shelves the white winter through
Pippin and Newtown, Rambo and Spy,
Greening and Swaar and Spitzenburg lie
With memories tense of sun and the dew.

They bring the great fields and the fence-rows here,
The ground-bird’s nest and the cow-bell’s stroke
The tent-worm’s web and the night-fire’s smoke
And smell of the smartweed through all the year.

They bring me the days when the ground was turned,
When the trees were pruned and tilled and sprayed,
When the sprouts were cut and grafts were made,
When fields were cleaned and the brush-wood piles burned.

And then the full days of the ripe months call
For Jefferis, Dyer and Early Joe
Chenango, Mother, Sweet Bough and Snow
That hold the pith of high summer and fall.

All a-sprightly and tart the crisp flesh breaks
And the juices run cordial and fine
Where the odors and acids combine
And lie in the cells till essence awakes.

I taste of the wilds and the blowing rain
And I taste of the frost and the skies;
Condensed they lie in the apple guise
And then escape and restore me again.

So every day all the old years end
And so every day they begin;
So every day the winds come in
And so every day the twelve-months blend.

C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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