Fallen Apples

Each year the highest apples on the oldest tree
Tantalise me
Scarlet jackets sparkling in the autumn sun
Gems every one
Out of reach from wobbling ladder
Or from telescopic picker
My days of climbing fruit-trees are well lost and gone

This tree, a “King of Pippins”, juicy, crisp and tart
Quickens my heart
Each year, when I first spy the stalk-fast "King of Kings"
Aloof, dangling
Unreachable, untouchable
Unsullied and impregnable
Only ripening will see this apple tumbling.

Nothing will soften its landing on the mown grass
It will be past
Perfection, its first bruising brooking no delay
Of its decay.
But this year, I have grasped the King
Undamaged, plucked the perfect thing.
Yet my mood is sad. This is not a happy day

For the tree that bore this prize apple stands no more.
It's "gone before".
Weighed down with pippins massed on every twig and bough,
Its time was now
No warning, just a whip-like sound
As it arced and fell toward the ground
Its main root snapped through and its canopy brought low.

Appled branches resting on our garden table
At last I'm able
To clasp and to harvest the "king" and its consorts
A fruity onslaught
Upon our tansied flower bed
Now gathered up, orange and red,
In bags and boxes that fill the house like a port

Is crammed with fishing boats once the storm is over.
I'm not in clover
For this nature's bounty is overwhelming me.
Two thousand apples stare at me
It is as if they're daring me
To use them up every one. Despairingly

I start to peel, to stew, to boil, to strain, to juice.
My insides loose
From a diet of pippins cored and eaten raw
I must do more
I text friends to come and collect
The ones that do often select
One or two, they resist the bags crowding the floor.

Dissect me now; see how much the apples take-up
Of my body's make-up.
I am half man/half Pippin, apple to the core
Yet I can't ignore
The fact that boxes full still loiter
Each time I reconnoitre
The darkened spaces hid behind each downstairs door