Larry Levis, in memory
It was almost fall in the Blue Ridge
and among these small mountains
he seemed content to be so far east.
He leaned against the doorjamb
blending his cigarette smoke with afternoon haze
and asked after the apples
dense on my tall, unpruned tree
An old vineyard hand,
he knew the uses of the earth’s fruit.
They go unpicked, I said.
The deer get the lower ones,
the groundhogs the windfall.
September, the air smells like brandy.
You need a ladder, he said.
This other August, the thunder over,
the lightning and downpour over,
as I walk out to the rain-soaked tree,
a heavily laden branch near the top
cracks and softly thrashes down.
In the gust of the after-breeze
the wet apple leaves sprinkle my hair
as I bend to pick from the broken bough—
for there on the earth
are the perfect ripe apples, glistening and easy,
easier than anyone has the right to expect.
By Elizabeth Seydel Morgan
Recipient of the 2005 Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize
Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press
from Without a Philosophy: Poems by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan.
Copyright © 2007 by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan.