Monday, September 26, 2011

Poem: A year in an apple


A year in an apple

Crunch into the sweet flesh,
and winter snow crumbles under a black branch
where the juncko lands.

With the second bite, the entire orchard
blossoms pink again in your mouth.

Hold its red skin against your cheek
and it is a hot summer day
but you are cool in the shade
of the tree it fell from.

It is autumn, you are eating an apple.
For a few moments remember the year,
how it opened and fell into a thousand pieces
and how you widened your being.



Divya said...

This is reminds of a poem on apple orchard by Rilke.
You really write it sweet and simple And this is wonderful

Arian Tejano said...

I'm hearing John Keats in this poem. I love your blog. Love at first visit.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

I love the way this poem evokes the possibility of almost turning back the clock and revisiting, or being revisited by, the earlier seasons of the year and of our lives, all with the simple act of biting into an apple. And then it ends up by putting us back in the present, but enriched and “widened” by the fleeting recollection of the march of the seasons through our taste buds, senses and consciousness.

And for me, this is a crispy way of munching into Autumn and as a tasty harbinger of my upcoming visit back home, in NJ and NY. The Fall is the season I miss the most here in central Spain. Most trips home have been in the summer so I dearly look forward to the crunch of some New England apples and the tangy bite of apple cider while I treat my eyes to the fiery foliage.

Grandmother said...

Yes, the year opens to us and we to it, widening us. All in the crunch of apple. Delicious.

Ruth said...

Thank you for that, Divya. I wasn't thinking of Rilke's "Apple Orchard" writing this, but I know all the writing of his that I've read influences all that I write now (this one especially, along with Rumi).

I see what you mean in the last two stanzas of "The Apple Orchard":

The trees, like those of Dürer,
bear the weight of a hundred days of labor
in their heavy, ripening fruit.
They serve with endless patience to teach

how even that which exceeds all measure
must be taken up and given away,
as we, through long years,
quietly grow toward the one thing we can be.

Ruth said...

Hello, welcome, and thank you, Arian. I quite like your first visit and look forward to more!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Lorenzo. Oh I hope this seasonal visit of yours to your old New England will be the best autumn for your all your senses, and for your future memories. I guess apples need frost to zing that sugar into action, and I imagine you might get some of that frost too. I wonder how your Spain-adjusted blood will feel on those crisp mornings.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Mary. Sometimes when I look back one year, I'm astonished at what has changed in me, for me.

George said...

Wonderful, Ruth, and, while I love the apple and all of its metaphorical possibilities, I am especially struck by the last few lines about remembering the year, "how it opened and fell into a thousand pieces and how you widened your being." Somehow, this reminds me that it may still be possible to remain whole as the world itself becomes more fragmented.

Ruth said...

Thank you, George. I sincerely hope it is true, while believing it with every day of my life. It's good to take stock of what we've been through and recognize how we've been strengthened, though we didn't think we could even survive.

erin said...

see why i love you?

and just this morning i read this too:

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

- Li-Young Lee

with eyes open we consume/are consumed.


Ruth said...

erin . . . Ohh! From Blossoms . . . it's an organum! I never knew that word though Brendan uses it, so I finally looked it up. I feel happy to have it happen, and have it be my poem, and then Lee's. I admire him so very much. Oh my, from joy / to joy to joy, from wing to wing, / from blossom to / impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Is there a better way to explain the oneness we are? (See why I love you?)

Brendan said...

No finer history of the natural year, bite by bite of the harvested apple. This really brought me deep into your land. -- A heartland, wouldn't you say? - Brendan

Nelson said...


Ruth, in remembering, you widened your being. In writing of your memories, you widen our being.

I like the sound of that first crunch, too.

Eric 'Bubba' Alder said...

Such is why apples are the divine fruit, symbolizing both heart and soul. (Apple pie! Mmmm!)

Maureen said...

Wonderful poem, Ruth. The first stanza is a perfect evocation of taking the first bite; the final one speaks to everything that autumn is, to the falling and the gathering and the remembering, enough to guide us through the winter's sleep.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Brendan. Yes, deep heartland, for me.

Ruth said...

Nelson, I struggled with the last lines. I thought of all that has transpired, for myself, for my friends, for family, the wounds and losses, as well as the joys. Is it enough to know we are widened by these things? Does that help, somehow?

Thank you.

Ruth said...

Eric, and they look like hearts, don't they?

I need to make a pie. So far, just chunky applesauce.

Ruth said...

Maureen, thanks so much. I'm struck by how each season is both a pause of looking back, and looking forward. We can be grateful for the bounty of summer's growth, and hope that we have gathered enough to last us through the dark months.

Friko said...

your title says it all.
A year in the bite of an apple.

missing moments said...

Always such a joy to come here Ruth and read your words.

hedgewitch said...

Beautiful resolution in this as well as a pointing forward. I loved the extra Rilke and Li-Young Lee contributed in the comments as well. (And I too, had to look up organum today to be sure about it, and found the second, musical meaning--lovely how words can have so many layers, a joy just like discovering the layers of what Nature gives us to work with with every day.)

Ginnie said...

It really is quite astonishing, Ruth, to think about a year in anything...but especially in something we eat that has endured all the seasons to become what it is our mouths!

I especially love seeing the peeler at the bottom of your post, even though I don't want you fo peel anything for me. It would be worth it just to watch it happen! :)

Oliag said...

Oh joy here! and in From Blossoms

both are equally my favorite new poems:)


ds said...

Only a deep and humble thank you for this, so beautiful and evocative. A true heart-poem.
Thank you to erin for Li-Young Lee, and again to you and Divya for the Rilke.

Babs-beetle said...

We've had bumper crops of apples in the UK this year. Apparently it's been perfect weather for them.

We have one of those apple gizmos that I can't remember the name of :)

Ruth said...

HI, Friko. Thanks for reading.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Reena. It's always a joy to see a comment from you.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Hedge. I really enjoyed this thought of Lee's voice added (or mine added to his) as harmony in this chant.

Ruth said...

Boots, Lesley and Don took turns with the peeler while we prepared four pecks (one bushel) of apples from the orchard for freezing and for a crisp. It's a gizmo that brings out the child in you. :-)

Ruth said...

Thank you, Oliag. I am in love with From Blossoms too. O, to take what we love inside, / to carry within us an orchard . . .

Ruth said...

Thank you, ds. I'm grateful, so grateful, for you and your attention to my poem and the other poet-witnesses.

Ruth said...

Babs, we just call it an apple peeler. Let me know if we should call it something else. ;)

Our apples were prolific this year as well, though I don't know about all of Michigan. I did hear that there is a shortage of pumpkins. :( Don didn't grow any of those this year, but we noticed the squashes did not do well.

Mark Kerstetter said...

This gorgeous poem brings my boyhood in Pennsylvania back to me. Every year at this time I get homesick for PA where I climbed apple trees, took one bite and threw them, they were so plentiful. This poem bursts with the life of that first thirsty bite.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Mark. It makes me happy that your memories filled you up out of this piece. What an image of a bite, and toss! I'm sure there were happy deer around to eat the rest. :-)

Jeanie said...

Welcome to apple season! What a fine greeting! I just love this time of year -- succulent in every way!