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.