Apple, Oak Poem by Linda Hepner

Apple, Oak

Rating: 5.0

In the garden of my childhood stood six apple trees,
remnant elders of an ancient orchard,
pride of parents in the spring when blossom bees
busied themselves with tulips planted round our courtyard

and one I named but now forget his name
who daily visited a stately glad
nobly ignoring me who’d give him fame
back then armed with my sketching pad.

Those years were sweet and few and yet they feel solid enough,
spreading boughs and branches where a swing
held a child happy in the photograph
streaked with light like childhood on the sudden wing,

no static attic vase, but breathing then
as now beneath my southern pomegranate,
a recreation of that childhood when
a minute was an hour and garden, planet.

Five of the apple trees were short and gnarled, the apples tart,
dropping amongst the grasses in the shade,
good for chutneys, sauces, wild tastes that smart,
spicing the pies and ciders that my mother made;

but in the sun, the centre of the lawn,
stood tall and sturdy that old apple tree
supporting children climbing, swinging, torn
between the watchful window and the free

world of imagination. Up above, the clouds could stop
and in them we would float to pirate land
until the game was over, then a voice would crop
our freedom, but beneath we’d later understand

that sweetness can be stored in taste and mind
when biting in the big tree’s juicy flesh,
which brings a lifetime search - the perfect kind
of apple to keep past in present fresh.

But strange, the tree was not like any apple ever seen;
rather it’s mate was in the park behind,
an ancient oak, immense, and noble, wide and green,
acorns like apples to red squirrels who would find

happiness for ever in its solid trunk
imposing gravitas upon my eyes:
from family, tradition I have drunk
enchanted juice, the spell, the bind that ties.

(For Susan)

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