October is Apple Month here at alphabet soup, so I’ve been reading a lot of apple poems. Just as the apple is the most versatile food in the world, it’s also one of the most versatile literary tools.
From the time we are fed that first baby spoon of applesauce, through those happy childhood days of finding an apple in our lunchboxes, until we are all grown up, still anticipating that first bite of warm apple pie, or finding deep satisfaction in preparing an apple dish for the family — apples nourish our bodies, while providing sensory stimulation with serious staying power.
It is no wonder, then, that many writers have ruminated upon the apple, since it carries a universal message. Apple as image, touchstone, symbol, metaphor, lyric — its tangible quality makes a strong impression on our imaginations, as we grasp for meaning.
Today I offer “The Crossed Apple,” by Louise Brogan. The apple the narrator offers to the maid is suitably weighted. Brogan exploits this symbol by referring to the apple’s skin, flesh, and seeds. As in many of her other poems, she uses the element of contrast brilliantly here. I am left pondering the apple as a microcosm of life.
If you could choose, which side would you take — the white or the red?
THE CROSSED APPLE
by Louise Brogan
I’ve come to give you fruit from out my orchard,
Of wide report.
I have trees there that bear me many apples,
Of every sort.
Clear, streaked; red and russet; green and golden;
Sour and sweet.
This apple’s from a tree yet unbeholden
Where two kinds meet,
So that this side is red without a dapple,
And this side’s hue
Is clear and snowy. It’s a lovely apple.
It is for you.