Golden Apple, Gauloises Blonde
i.
The apple in fact a sickly yellow freckled bronze where death began its campaign arrows hitting where it lives on the bough death successful and from those weapons and their men a victory cry arises  Fallen there in the grass is it meant now to fulfil its purpose on earth but what is any thing’s purpose  Does a mother’s for instance arrive when the first wail arrives her own life ended and she must as apparition live and die again for her child
ii.
A barefooted girl travels the tenuous miles from her childhood home to her marriage bed  She begins her service dirt scrubbed loose by her washing meat pounded under her hand boiling of potato tearing of lettuce  She cuts herself along with the radish her kin eating recklessly then hurrying away to other affairs leaving her reflected in bare wet plates  She continues to eat alone small-shouldered at the table  I turn around as I didn’t then I see her there
iii.
Between a mother and daughter comes a moment of capitulation When the girl is thirteen the older hands over her beauty oils leached from her hair entering the daughter’s making it shine while decay spots the apple-fair flesh of the ma’am defeated despairing cleaning the mirror to no use her anger increasing  Would this moment occur in nature the young would either be left to starve in the wilderness or be killed teeth at the neck by the mother her competitor
iv.
In a painting when all elements are harmonious and feeling yields to true utterance causing an arrow of recognition to pierce deeply a stranger  When the colors and composition work as one to frame that clarity a mathematical rightness called the Golden Mean is achieved She was capable of deep feeling without art-making  Deer feeding in the field moved her turkeys rising like quarter notes across the road Her voice breaks better than poetry when she tells the anecdote
v.
Too shy to work in the world scraping and knitting sacrifice became her talent yet she hated her home yet it was her realm  She found liminal pleasure in the blackberries and raspberries that grew wild in the wood making jellies the kitchen opaque with steam suffused with hot sugar  She poured great energy into this and when it ended one year with no announcement she seemed not to mourn it  Her pride became her children’s accomplishments a kind of self-hatred
vi.
Killed snakes with an axe then chopped wood she roused no sexual feeling in her husband thus become her own man which meant she was no longer a wife in the traditional sense  It was when she departed into a fog she became happiest  How bitterly she wanted the peace of an hour but a child-sized organ bleated Beautiful Dreamer somewhere a stain was seeping in  She came with her rag and her listening with nowhere to go and her children needful
vii.
Sidesaddle on the river’s lamp-lit banks in the City of Lights a bit apple in one hand in the other a nearly spent cigarette not knowing if I am choosing life or death the white fruit or black ash  I was taught by example not to value my own existence meaning I care as much as I can but this living seems a pretense when the connection to something lost and sadder seems truer though the decorations could not be more moving meaning my will to remain on earth is mysterious
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