Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Poem: At the orchard


At the orchard

It is a late Saturday afternoon in early
October, and I am headed nowhere,
certainly not the cider-and-doughnut orchard
I happen upon, where it seems as though
the Rapture has air-lifted the good farmer
and his customers up into a mountainous range
of clouds, leaving behind this littered
grassy harbor at the side of the road.
I stop the car of course
and stroll and meander among abandoned
crates and bushel baskets domed
with butternut squash and apples, the way
I might wander a marina eyeing steepled yachts
with prettily altared bouquets and exposed living
rooms of the heavenly high life, as frivolous
as these pumpkins lounging in the field, perfectly
tufted and plush in rafty orangeness,
waiting to be the chosen, to pose as ghouls
or toothy goofs, thick, rich flesh and eyes
golden candlelit within. And over under a tree,
a grubby discard of apples on the ground, unhinged
and white where broken, fading to gray ferment
at the bruises where a fleet of yellowjackets fizzes
out the only sound, in full-out bingeing, mindlessly
enraptured, partying like there’s no tomorrow
                                                   or this or that life.



Kathleen said...

Love this! You created it so beautifully with words, I was there! And then the pictures themselves are more windfall!

Maureen said...

I also enjoyed your poem very much, Ruth. You created in your poem the same wonderful contract as the two images present, moving effortlessly from "bushel baskets domed/with butternut squash and apples" to pumpkins posing "as ghouls/ or toothy goofs". That sense of everything Fall brings with it is here in your visually rich piece. Delightful!

photowannabe said...

This is absolutely delicious!
You painted the most tastey word picture for me. I wanted to be on that walk with you.
To be able to see with your eyes the bees dance of full abandon.
Glad I visited today.

Margaret said...

where it seems as though
the Rapture has air-lifted the good farmer
and his customers up into a mountainous range
of clouds, leaving behind this littered
grassy harbor at the side of the road.

I can imagine the crunch of your boots as you are the only one there where once a lot of activity must have taken place. This FLOWED just so wonderfully and the pictures it paints in the mind is wonderful. I love the comparison to a marina and the fact you compare this to the "high life". Funny thing is, there are probably many "high life" people that long for something such as this...

Thank you for this poem (and the photos, of course)

Mark Kerstetter said...

I love your description of those apples. There's profound beauty in that "grubby discard."

hedgewitch said...

Somehow you always manage to take one just a little deeper than one thinks--this time with your ending phrase, which catapults the mind into a different frame of reference, of comparison(or turning away from comparison) I"m ready to join the yellowjackets now.

Unknown said...

Beautifully done .... partying like no tomorrow! :)

Grandmother Mary said...

What a great image- yellow jackets drunk on fermenting apples. And all that follows from that- fizzes, bingeing, mindless enrapture and extreme partying. I'm there.

California Girl said...

My husband just bid on a cider press? Why? you ask? Because our youngest son texted hinm it would be "cool to make hard cider and apple jack with an apple press".

We have 3 or 4 apples trees swollen with fruit. One tree split in half from the load, the flooding and probably old age.

I am not knowledgeable about any of this because I've never had fruit bearing apple trees before. Last year, the trees in my MIL's yard (now our yard) bore no fruit so it wasn't an issue.


Jeanie said...

I feel as though I am there with you! And what wonderful photos to illustrate a poem, perfect in plump orange plushness!

ds said...

Rapturous! ;) So much below the surface of this one (or so i sense) "this life or that one"
Plush oranges, steeples of broken corn, drunken yellow jackets, that split apple. Oh, Ruth, your language!

I could get drunk on that. Thank you.

amy@ Souldipper said...

Of course you stopped the car! Your descriptions delighted my fall mania. The minute you mentioned the apples, I thought of hornets. Sure enough. They flew into my house all day today - only leaving if they found the opening at the other end. Usually I have to escort them out in a glass covered with an undelivered birthday card.

erin said...

i'm right there beside ds, your language! i feel the craft in this one but it does not diminish but punches it with poignancy. and the pumpkins as luxury! ha! i wonder about you there, how you might appear, your gears turning as you appraise in the real world, smoke pouring out of your ears. i would love to watch you watch the yellowjackets enraptured.


erin said...

curiosity in the last line though, this or that life. do tell (?) is this utter acceptance?


Ruth said...

Thanks, Kathleen! It's times like these that I'm glad I take a lot of pictures. This was two years ago, but only now did I get down to writing about the moments there. I was able to meditate on the photos to bring back the feelings I had.

Ruth said...

Maureen, thanks a lot. I am especially inspired in autumn (though the most in winter). It's like the air sheds a skin or two, the light is open in a way both fresh and low.

Ruth said...

Hi, Sue! I'm glad you stopped today too. Bees and wasps are such a gift.

Ruth said...

Thanks a lot, Margaret. I don't know how the marina occurred to me, but the one I was thinking of was the one in Saugatuck, maybe you know it. I was struck by the ways we decorate our lives, without really connecting with the things we do it with. I was thinking of the "waste" of all that pumpkin flesh when used for jack-o-lanterns and not cooked or baked up into anything. Anyway, there's a lot else going on in this poem for me, but that's one thing. Thanks so much for reading and for your good comment.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Mark. Finding that grubby discard of apples covered with wasps was a memorable moment two years ago. They were the only "customers" in the place!

Ruth said...

Hedge, thanks as always for reading closely, and finding layers. The contrasts here are both between the life of luxury of yachts and an earthy farm, and between the imagined life of heaven where people want to go, live their lives to go to, always "working to Friday" as the saying goes, and this earthy existence where I believe we create heaven or hell ourselves. So, between this life of earthy existence, and that life of luxury that a few earth residences taste, and/or the place with streets of gold and gates of pearl that dagnab it some people live for and make life on earth hell for many.

(Sorry, little rant.)

Ruth said...

Thanks, Reena, enjoy!

Ruth said...

Mary, thanks, and do enjoy!

Ruth said...

California Girl, good luck with that . . . as my boss used to say. ;)

We've considered a cider press now and then ourselves. It sounds like fun. I'm afraid I know nothing about pruning or presses or anything. Don is the husbandman. There's nothing like google and blogs to learn from, which is how he did a lot of his self education for the chickens and turkeys when he raised them.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Jeanie. Glad I'm not alone. ;)

Ruth said...

ds, thanks a bunch. Yes, there is a lot going on here, about heaven and earth, and the high life and low life. When I remember how much energy I spent living for the someday heaven, it sort of makes me crazy. Thanks, friend.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Amy. While you enjoy the raptures of fall, do be careful with those hornets, which love to hide in socks as I rudely discovered one day.

Ruth said...

Dear erin, thanks so much.

(Please read my response to Hedgewitch.) I am bamboozled by the decades of my life spent worrying about the next life and whether I was saved for it or not, would one day wake up in heaven. I see this in parallel with the contrast between high class and low class (the new middle class) here in society, and how so many long to "make it" one day, to afford the luxuries that some imagine heaven to be. So, this life or that life, as if there is anything other than this. The wasps just get lost in this, and that's what I want, though as a human it ain't entirely possible, is it.

Brendan said...

This one zinged me right way with memories of apple-picking at Bell's Orchards fifty miles outside of Chicago when I was a kid. We'd load up on a bushel or two and then stop at a roadside stand to pick out a pumpkin, gourds, old eaves of corn, etc: The autumn Dionysia. Here you step around that to make rich discoveries in what's left behind, the stuff which perhaps deserves more notice for the ruined splendor they represent. Those yellowjackets inherit the meek, and a good time is had by them all. Oh that we could feast on our poverty. Fine work, Ruth. - Brendan

Ruth said...

Brendan, I so appreciate your pinpoint reads, seeing the essence of a piece. As erin wrote in "the root vegetables are ready" there is a lot of work to do in autumn when so much comes to fruition suddenly. We lap it up, and some of it we throw away, because it's too much, and it goes to rot. I'm so taken with the cycle of life, with buzzards who clean up carrion, with wasps who lap up the ferment. And yes, would that we could feast on our poverty. Thanks for that.

GailO said...

Love this so much! Autumn and the smell of fallen apples and the hum of yellow jackets are a memory imprint for I have a poem to go with it:)

Picturing the "rapture" in the pumpkin field made me smile:)

Friko said...

Whatever it is you write about, the most mundane sight in anybody else's view, turns into pure gold in yours.

who said...

It's beautiful poem Ruth. There is something that is always apparent to some people in the differences between this life and that and just like your poem, it is seen as a calming beauty. The treasures reserved for those who understand and know the subtle beauty, which thank god gets overlooked.

The subtle treasures are not fought for in wars that kill and maim. The hymenoptera rapture is a cleaning up of what was left to rot, and they are rewarded as there work is almost like dealing with the farms commercial pains. A price that must be paid by someone somewhere when prophets are taken by someone else during a time of unbalance.

seeing things through, and being there after a reaping of a top heavy unbalance is often where the living heaven resides. Round wheels are smooth, times when everything is alright. When the wheel (this circle of life) becomes lop-sided like the lurching step of the running horse Rilke writes of, this is the time right before great rewards appear.

attaching oneself to the excess only is removing oneself from the true treasures of rounding things out.

your poems glow with that subtle beauty that is the real treasure.

Montag said...

That is such a wonderful conceit!: to have the Rapture rip through the world and you find yourself in a pumpkin field looking for pumpkins... homely husbandry and domesticity while the politicians of the spirit rage on about their ideology!

Montag said...

May I borrow it? The idea, that is, of picking pumpkins while the Rapture occurs. Making drinking cider and eating doughnuts like the miserable sinner I am!

who said...

:-) you should try the cinnamon and sugar doughnuts Montag, that's the tradition in Oregon that I've seen. They are excellent.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Oliag. Let's enjoy autumn and its smells and spells.

Ruth said...

Friko, thank you for such kindness.

Ruth said...

Dusti, thank you for one of the most beautiful and touching comments I've read. I really love everything you said.

Ohh, that lurching step of Rilke's running horse, the wounded one.

Yes, our true treasure is inside.

Thank you, thank you.

Ruth said...

Montag, borrow, beg and steal! I'd be honored. And as Dusti (who) says, might as well sin boldly with the most decadent doughnuts available!

Jeanie said...

OH, yes -- we are at that time, aren't we? I'm longing for pumpkins (did you hear there might be a pumpkin shortage this year?) and oh, the apples. As much as I hate that this signals the inevitable entry of winter not so long from now, I love this season. You capture it so well!

Montag said...

It is the time for cinnamon
coarse sugar
and pumpkins to be put in pies
and filled
afterwards with candlelight.

Ginnie said...

And THIS, my friends, is Autumn! :) I love it, Ruth.