The last time I talked to you,
it was the first of November.
Three of our four apple trees
had hundreds of apples.
Boughs bent with their weight.
Some of the smaller ones broke but held on.
Every day I picked a few bucketfuls—
five dozen apples or so.
Some fell into my hands like magic,
others needed a twist and a jerk,
but a few hardened cases wouldn’t let go.
When they did, I was apple bombarded—
on top of my head, on my shoulders,
a couple times right on my nose.
I hauled them inside and washed them
and polished them (don’t even ask—
I don’t know) and cored them
and cut out the soft brown bruises
and cut out the holes pecked by blackbirds
and sliced them thin, still in their skins,
into a pan where they slowly simmered—
and squeezed them, steaming,
through a ricer and spooned hot mush
into pint-sized containers
I froze into applesauce blocks.
There will be applesauce enough
to last until next fall’s harvest.
Nothing has changed, you see.
I do it the same old way.
But I told you all that in November.
And even now in the gathering dark
of a late afternoon in December,
of one more year stretching between us,
I think of you. I remember.
—from Rattle #24, Winter 2005
Tom Hansen: “I wanted to write a poem about that gut-queasy thrill of standing high up on a ladder precariously leaned against a tall apple tree and swaying uncertainly back and forth, attempting to seduce the topmost apples to fall into my outstretched hands. They never did. Neither did the poem. In its place, this one slowly began to take shape. It’s more down to earth than the one I intended. And, therefore, better. I know of no other endeavor in which missing what you aim for brings such solid satisfaction.”