Dad Poem X

Joshua Bennett

You can’t have apples with everything,
we say to our son over breakfast, but that’s
not technically true. He knows this, I suspect,
though his face reflects a certain understanding,
as if he’s willing to negotiate. Before we moved here,
I knew so little of apples, their untamed array
of shapes & names: Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp, Crisp
-in, Cortland, Cameo. Both Rome & Empire,
somehow, which feels like it must be an inside joke
between members of the committee. Fuji, Winesap. Ruby
-Frost, which could be either a miracle or a plague,
I can’t decide which. Paula Red is a Soviet secret
agent. Envy is a deadly sin. Holstein & Ambrosia
have skin like a storm on a televised map. On the ride
upstate to the orchard, I recount all the types to myself
in a private game. Select my prize in advance. Bags filled
with Liberty & Jazz will be my aims, like any good
American. Two months earlier, it is not yet my birthday.
I am in an office in Brighton. The doctor has never seen
a case quite like mine. During the tests, I make every task
a language game, even the ones with semicircles & blocks.
This part of my mind is hypercharged, he says, like a quasar,
or loving dispute. That morning, I cut a Braeburn into eighths
and cast the pieces into a small blue bowl: a handful of rowboats
swaying. At the orchard, we are stars set loose across the mind
of a boy in a field on his back, dreaming with both eyes open.
We run for hours. We gather enough apples to sate ourselves
for weeks on nothing but their cold red wealth. What marvels:
this most metaphorical of fruits, Newtonian, Edenic, pure
delight. Mighty & bright. And the orchard like a coliseum
of planets you could hold in your hand.

Last updated October 17, 2022