The Gift of Apples
by Darby Mitchell
In the epoch of the Wild Wind,
It was the Three Sisters
Who, while they were yet one,
While Time was not yet divided,
Brought the wild apple tree as a seed inherent in their womb,
And planted it in Matter.
It is a matter of wonder, then, that
On a sudden sunshine day in the childhood of the children in my neighborhood,
Leading with stubborn, outthrust stomachs
as children do when they are bid to approach the forbidden,
for no coherent reason that we could name
At the wild apple tree
That grew gnarled and alone in the field behind our houses,
The wind was whipping itself into a frenzy.
As if on cue,
Up the road came the sisters, Margaret and Joyce,
Hauling behind them in the clank and rattle of an old red wagon,
Their baby sister, Choral,
and stashed in Choral’s lap, the box
draped in a brown and gold paisley shawl that had a fringe on it.
The sky was working to pull us into a vortex.
Margaret, in black,
oldest of the three sisters,
Bent her lanky height over the little red wagon,
Lifted the box from the lap of her littlest sister,
And, as if a priestess,
Held the box aloft
Before our eyes.
Then Margaret handed the box off to the second sister, Joyce,
Who, as if an acolyte,
Made obeisance to her elder sister,
Made obeisance also to us,
Then turned her back on us to face the gnarled apple tree.
The wind swirled,
Whirled about us all,
Whipping our hair,
Alarming our eyes.
Margaret, the eldest,
Spoke to us then:
“You will see nothing,
You will hear nothing here!” she commanded us.
We pawed the dust with the smooth soles of our sandals.
Peeking through our upturned eyes,
we saw Joyce climbing long-legged into the mourning apple tree.
The wind, wild with electricity, crackled.
Baby sister Choral gripped the sides of the red wagon,
On the earth, in the shadow of the dry scrub weeds,
I stared as the shadow of Margaret,
In the whipping wind
Became a great black ragged witch.
My baby brother Butch tugged at my overalls and sniveled.
“Shut up!” I hissed at him.
“You’re not even supposed to be here!”
We heard Joyce grunt as she dropped from the apple tree
We could look up now.
The box was gone into the crux of the barren apple tree.
Margaret stepped toward us,
“You will never, ever tell what you have seen, what you have heard here!”
As if the play was simply done,
Margaret and Joyce resumed pulling the clanking,
Red wagon beyond us, up the road.
And the sudden autumn storm abated.
Not yet dismissed,
Unable in ourselves to break the spell,
Stood rooted in our destiny,
awaiting some unknown, lost and final act,
In our gravity,
Trying not to fly.