This one was also published in the now defunct 13 Chairs.
You resisted Eve’s temptation
for far too long, passing
by the crabapple tree each day
with the stroller filled with the overtired,
but never passed out, fussy toddler.
The fruit hangs low,
red with a bit of yellow,
that by the day is eclipsed
by the growing red.
Each day you long for a bite
Because you think
it will remind you of Sky Queen,
the blue bike with the cloud seat
and the white straw basket
with three plastic daisies
of pink, blue and purple.
In the Midwest of your memory,
the crabapple tree reclines like a “y”
in your babysitter’s backyard.
In the summer, you rode
Sky Queen through the grass and crushed apples,
making your own sour applesauce on the ground.
For hours you gazed at the “y” and
from its branches, took the green apples and
threw them at the neighbor’s kid.
From its leaves, you sought shelter
from the July heat before you took bites
from the dirty apples
until your babysitter’s old finger shook
and sentenced you inside.
In Alaska, as the clouds spill low around the mountains,
the September morning frosts over the tree,
yet the fruit still stands,
inviting you to take it in like an old friend
who shows up at your doorstep unexpected.
So, you invite it in without looking,
and just as the child once did,
your now mature hands reach
over the stranger’s fence to pluck the reddest fruit.
Taking a bite, you are looking at the “y” again
and Sky Queen is your ride,
but now the fruit is bitter,
not tart like you once remembered.
You hear the buzzing
and see the yellow jackets
as they sting your feet
and suddenly, you notice the present world,
and you toss the bitter apple into the street drain,
and bid the uninvited guest to go away.