Apple by Patricia Karamesines

(for Michael R.)

Michael, think of an apple, how its taste
saturates all memories of first fruit.
Probably before you grasped the word, €œapple, €
a pome caught hold of you, flavor and firm body
biting through your thin skin.
Don’t you still recall €œapple € by charms
more defined, more seasoned,
more round ripe than the word?
Agitation by a few grains from another blossom,
bulb of pale flower swollen in streams of light,
it bobs for weeks in the weather, distilling.
It sweetens in cool cellars of the moon.
It shapes into all that you remember:
Taste verging on fragrance; crisp, wooden meat;
and color like you like to imagine a heart has €”
life-red and glistening, wet.
Your hand is no stranger to apple-hearts.
Somehow that clarifies what your mind knows,
apple not just as word but as living full savor.

Michael, don’t carry in pocket the word only;
keep the whole fruit ever at hand.
Nor should you rely upon the name,
an apple doesn’t answer to its name.
Nor do we, but to the quick of the season,
immanent, juicy, red-freckled, standing our senses
on edge, now.   Forget the word, €œapple. €
From such vagaries people walk away hungry.
With out-held words and ripe, swaying language,
make apples to fill the brain’s deep belly, having first
filled your own hand, cupped your own palm.

7 thoughts on “Apple by Patricia Karamesines”

  1. Latest draft. Wrote this years and years ago for a student in my English comp class. He was a very feeling young man and showed potential as a writer but tended to rely on generalities, abstractions, blank-faced nouns. I thought this might get through to him. Did it? Don’t know. He did have a strong reaction.

    Though not quite done, this poem seemed a good fit for Love of Nature, Nature of Love Month.


  2. That apple has to taste really good. Instead of coming from the Tree of Knowledge, that apple has to come from The Tree of Emotion because it made me feel virtue rather than sin.


  3. Heaven forbid I write anything that makes a person feel sin. 😉

    “Tree of Emotion” is a stunning idea. I imagine anyone eating its fruit to feel … more. Or maybe to begin feeling. Such a tree could be very beneficial, but also, for some, very frightening. Or overwhelming. Or intoxicating.


  4. I don’t often cotton to free verse poetry. It’s just as tough to pull off convincingly as, well, poetry in general, but most writers think it’s tantamount to a carte blanche. But you seem to understand the form. (Let’s call it a form, for shorthand.)

    I groove on this: ideas as lines until the third- and second-last, when all that’s transpired backs up onto itself, crowds in at a cumulative rush, and then quiets down and relaxes in the final line. It’s sensible, in all the senses of that word.


  5. But you seem to understand the form.

    “Seem to understand”–that pretty much sums me up. 🙂

    You’ve made some valuable comments here that I’ll hold in store for when I attempt the next draft. Thanks, Jonathon.

    Also, here’s a poem of mine from last years LONNOL Month that’s about a formal as I can get (link in “a poem”–links in comments turn invisible for some reason). To balance out the free verse offering, I mean.


  6. I love these lines:

    “it bobs for weeks in the weather, distilling.
    It sweetens in cool cellars of the moon.”

    I[‘ll think of it when I have oatmeal with apple slices in the morning.


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