Never Mind Picking Apples

by | April 11, 2023

I want to tell you about the tree.
How the tree was tall, how
it held its height in the way
tall-kind do, assured of presence,
as if all its life the sun had whispered,
you will be tall and strong.
As if all its life, the tree had believed
the promises of the sun, in the way
one believes a warm palm over a shoulder
that says, you do not know yet, but you’ll see
everything will turn out alright.
How, surely, the tree grew through that
belief – branches reaching out so long
now they drape around its trunk,
a gold-leaf canopy for solitary bees,
brushing faces with nectar and tree dust.
How the tree must have trusted the sun
so much that even on the shortest days –
when the sun felt very far and never stayed
long enough – the tree stood tall
and loved the sun so much that
when its light came slowly back,
staying longer each day,
the tree laughed with light pink flowers,
its bark dimpled into sweet folds
and when the sun started to leave again,
the tree offered apples, red and surprising
as planets – the constancy of their gravity
with regards to each other and all
that other matter.
How the tree does not need
to be called
an apple tree.
How the tree can stand alone.

But one year, when the tree offered apples,
we climbed through its leafy crown
to take just a few, laughing
as bits of leaf litter teased our hair,
at the awkward spaces
we find ourselves in
when we climb a tall tree and reach
a little too far for the biggest fruits –
which we thought must be the sweetest –
if only because the view over the garden
made them so.
How the tree shook with laughter before
dropping three perfect apples
into our hands.

Words by Kendall Jefferys. Art by Sophia Howard.