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Apple Orchard Blues

France Horne

My youngest daughter asks to go to the orchard now
   almost every other day.
My youngest daughter cries out apples in her sleep, wakes
  to pack her open dream-box carefully away.
In the morning I’ll wear my old checked flannelette shirt,
     and salve her biggest bruise.

The middle child still wants her apples sliced for her,
   thin as an old woman’s skin.
The middle child wants someone to walk the orchard rows
 with her, to tear at leaves, catch her downward grin.
In the afternoon I’ll ask her to roll the pastry out, so I can sob
    over sugared fruit unseen.

The older boy won’t revisit the orchard now for love
 nor money, says there’s nothing left to learn.
The older boy sees all his unpicked apples hanging low, late
   season sweetness on the turn.
In the night we’ll mark this season’s height against the doorjamb;
   next year’s yield budding behind our eyes.

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