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Danielle Sellers-IV

Smoky Mountain Apple Orchard



The fall you were seven months from my belly,

I packed you and a lunch in the car,

drove to the horizon, out of South Carolina

north until the land grew craggy,

fog hung low. We climbed steep curves

following the signs for apples, your first word.


At the farm, the barn smelled of cider and fritters.

The checkered tablecloths were saddled

with apple butter in mason jars.

I set you down in a patch of pumpkins

and all the city weekenders cooed

at your plump loveliness, your bluest eyes.


We wheeled downhill to the pond,

where a honking goose strained

to nip your fingers. You wanted

to touch it as much as it wanted you to.

But already I was denying you,

saving you. It was dizzying


in the slanted orchard rows.

The sun dappled through the trees

you crawled under as I filled a basket.

Wind whipped up from the valley

smelling only of woodsmoke—

I left you gnawing a MacIntosh,


teetered on the ridge looking back

from where we’d come, considering it.

What would it be like, to let the body go,

to give in to gravity? Then I bit into

a Golden Delicious so crisp and sweet

it made me never want to die.