When we reached the spot, I tumbled out of the Chrysler,
body and mind knowing from the start
that everything there was a singular magic
to be breathed, tasted, seen, touched.
Made my own as it settled in the blood.
Merriment gathered parents into small groups
but we children were impatient and reverted to wildness,
whooping and rushing into the span and
fold of the orchard, baskets banging against thighs.
The call of apples: succulent orbs ripe
for our reach, earthen grit rubbed against shirts,
weather-cured skins held to noses,
mouths readied for the tang and sugar.
Teeth to apple, one crunch to luxury,
a meat made of sharp or sweet.
We closed our eyes, tongues dazzled.
Autumn’s juices trickled down chins.
We piled up shapely globes in baskets,
checking for worm holes, leaving behind any
softening flesh that loosed spicey-sour scents,
their beauty soon bygone and laid to rest.
I paused to watch others transfixed by
pleasures of the day, their arms small but strong,
hands grasping, faces pinked with cold and happiness.
Baskets dragged on arms but more to pick,
show off and share. Work was never so good.
Back in the thicket of grownups we claimed
warm cake donuts crowned with cinnamon
and sipped burning cider between bites.
Oh, the hunger of a child magnified by October.
Everything happening spilled into everything,
treetops stirring the northern lake-blue sky,
slices of wind raising goosebumps,
air woven with apple perfume and scattered laughter
that seemed the presence and promise of good fortune,
the thrumming of my heart like a drum of eternity.
Everywhere I looked between the burnished trees
people leaned into and reached for one another
as if no one would be lost or forgotten,
harmed or unforgiven.
No one left without sustenance enough.
In the scratchy wool plaid pocket of my jacket
lay a golden delicious apple, safe and big
as my cupped hand, saved for another day,
a guard against bitter frost and snow to come.