There’s a large basket of apples in one corner of the kitchen. I smelled them last night as I lay in the darkness. What will I do, what will I do? I used to make apple butter, apple sauce, chutney, jam; now they are the last things to leave the shelves. What will I do, I wondered in the dark. It was something to think about other than tanks and guns, new graves in the burned fields, and the politics of resentment filling the airwaves all weekend.
Eve’s knees ground in the dirt
of paradise. Newton watching gravity
happen. The history
of apples in each starry core
Measure out flour, butter, ice-water. Listen to news of war in your grandfather’s country, retreats, revenge (a small man in your own country announcing victory and eager for an election). Cut the butter into the flour, mix to a shaggy dough.
The apple endures.
Born of the wild rose, of crab ancestors.
The first pip raised in Kazakhstan.
Peeled, trimmed of their bruises (the wind-fallen, the overripe), cored, sliced, drizzled with lemon juice, sprinkled with cinnamon, ginger, a grating of nutmeg. Brown sugar. A little vanilla to round out the flavour. Let them sit while you roll out the pastry, let the scent of ginger overwhelm the bitter smoke from fires in Hope, the Interior, Washington State. Let them sit.
Hard cider. Winter banana.
Melt-in-the-mouth made sweet
Roll out the pastry on the wooden board given to you 45 Christmases ago. Line the pans with the pliant rounds. Try not to think of your missed swim (the particulates, the haze). Keep your hands busy.
Some of the apples were green-shouldered, some were golden beauties. Fallen or picked, they were perfection, tart-fleshed. Their scent filled the darkness last night and now in the freezer, pies wait for winter. Keep the bitter men from power, hide the sharp knives at the back of a drawer, mend the gate the bear broke in eagerness to feast on apples the day after they were picked.
(Note: the lines of poetry are from Dorianne Laux’s “A Short History of the Apple”.)