The Apple Tree
This summer a tree expert came out to tell me the pockmarks in my apples were probably maggots getting fat inside the fruit. I judged those apples rotten, though they were perfect for the worms, and it was perfect that I felt like a failure, because I had failed to tend one tree. Later, a friend came over for tea. While we looked at pictures, something I misremembered about an image of victory being an uneven burden worked its way into our language. Unconsciously I tried to impose that on her, as if she didn’t have enough going on choosing a best path forward. Sometimes I remember and sometimes I misremember and all the while the president is trying to detain everyone. I know what makes me safe-ish but I don’t want to say it and that’s why I say it when I do clumsily like I just learned a new word in a second language. Jabłka is apples in Polish, which I am teaching myself, and which would be my other first language had it not been smacked from my father’s small mouth by a kindergarten teacher who wanted him to assimilate whitely. What if I say it’s a gift to know what it means to have been the grower of a maggotfeast? Can I throw the pocky apples in the compost and learn something new before spring?
PAULA CISEWSKI‘s fourth poetry collection, Quitter, won the Diode Editions Book Prize. She is also the author of The Threatened Everything (Burnside Review), Ghost Fargo (Nightboat Poetry Prize winner, selected by Franz Wright), Upon Arrival, and several chapbooks, including the lyric prose Misplaced Sinister. She lives in Minneapolis, where she teaches writing privately and academically and makes things at Yew Who Studio and Beauty School Press.
Artwork by David Dodd Lee.
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