Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In The Night Orchard

by R. T. Smith

I know, because Paul has told me
a hundred times, that the deer
gliding tonight through tangleweed
and trashwood, then bounding across
Mount Atlas Road, are after his pears.

And who could blame them?
On the threshold of autumn, the Asian
imports, more amazing than any Seckle
or indigenous apple, start to ripen.
Then a passing crow will peck one open.

That's when the whitetails who bed
and gather beyond Matson's pasture
will catch the scent and begin to stir.
It's a dry time, and they go slowly mad
for sweetness. No fence can stop them.

The farmers like Paul will admit
it starts in hunger, but how suddenly
need goes to frenzy and sheer plunder.
When the blush-gold windfalls are gone
and the low boughs are stripped

of anything resembling bounty, bucks
will rise on their hind legs and clamber
up the trunks. Last week Cecil Emore
found one strangled in a fork,
his twisted antlers tangled as if

some hunter had hung him there
to cure. We all remember what it's like,
this driven season, this delirium
for something not yet given a name,
but the world turns us practical, tames

us to yearn for milder pleasures.
For Augustine, it was actual pears
that brought him out of the shadows
and over a wall, for Eve, the secret
inside what we now say was an apple.

Others have given up safety for less,
and I wonder, catching an eight-point
buck outlined on the ridge amid spruce,
if it's this moonstruck nature that renders
the ruminants beautiful, or if we stalk

them out of envy, not for the grace
of their gliding, but for the unadorned
instinct that draws them after dark
into trespass and the need to ruin
the sweetest thing they've ever known.

6 comments:

  1. Gorgeous photo. Breathtaking poem. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so glad this poem said "what we now say was an apple." It annoys me to no end when people call the forbidden fruit an apple as a point of fact when the Bible NEVER says it was an apple. Milton did, but the creation story doesn't specify. And I love that this poem doesn't really specify, either.

    Beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love your post, and I'm now having a cup of tea and checking out the rest of your wonderful blog!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Desire that ruins, sweetness that leaves us aching and mad...

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wonder if R.T. wrote this when he was in East Alabama...hunting is really big here.
    I really have enjoyed visiting your blog.

    ReplyDelete

Hey, thanks for your thoughts and your time:>)