Apple by Patricia Karamesines

Fuji Apples public domain image via Wikimedia Commons Images courtesy of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture2

Michael, think of an apple, how its taste
saturates all memories of first fruit.
Probably before you grasped the word, “apple,”
a pome caught hold of you, flavor and firm body
biting through your thin skin.
Don’t you still recall “apple” by charms
more defined, more seasoned,
more round ripe than the word?
Agitation by a few grains from another blossom,
bulb of pale flower swollen in streams of light,
it bobs for weeks in the weather, distilling.
It sweetens in cool cellars of the moon.
It shapes into all that you remember:
Taste verging on fragrance; crisp, wooden meat;
and color like you like to imagine a heart has—
life-red and glistening, wet.
Your hand is no stranger to apple-hearts.
Somehow that clarifies what your mind knows,
apple not just as word but as living full savor.

Michael, don’t carry in pocket the word only;
keep the whole fruit ever at hand.
Nor should you rely upon the name,
an apple doesn’t answer to its name.
Nor do we, but to the quick of the season,
immanent, juicy, red-freckled, standing our senses
on edge, now.  Forget the word, “apple.”
From such vagaries people walk away hungry.
With out-held words and ripe, swaying language,
make apples to fill the brain’s deep belly, having first
weighted your own hand, cupped your own palm.

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Patricia Karamesines lives with her family in the Four Corners region of the southwestern U.S. She has won many awards for her poetry, essays, and fiction. She is the author of The Pictograph Murders, a mystery set in the area where she lives. An adjunct English professor for Utah State University-Eastern, she teaches English composition and also works as a tutor for English. She is founding editor of Wilderness Interface Zone and a passionate advocate for the environment of human expression.

This poem was originally published on WIZ on February 2, 2011. But I thought it fit here, with other language posts, maybe a little better.

This is a GREEN LANGUAGE post.

5 thoughts on “Apple by Patricia Karamesines”

  1. I like “out-held words”. “[C]harms / more defined, more seasoned, / more round ripe than the word” is pretty good, too, as are “crisp, wooden meat”, “not just as word but as living full savor”, don’t carry in pocket the word only; / keep the whole fruit ever at hand”, “an apple doesn’t answer to its name” and “make apples to fill the brain’s deep belly.”

    Does the Michael in the poem happen to have a friend called Eve?

  2. Thanks for reading, guys, and for your nice comments.

    Mark, this Michael went by Michael Romero. He was a student in a freshman comp class I taught at BYU over three decades ago, when I was a grad student. I wrote the first draft of this poem for him and gave it to him.

    But your question certainly tilts the poem at an interesting angle. Especially if we wonder if the poem’s speaker is an Eve.

  3. Patricia, this was so pregnant with both beauty and wisdom–and I say that not just because I love apples and all things pomaceous. You amaze me.

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