In the Orchard He thinks himself an apple of late summer in the orchard south of Onondaga, where signs read, "U-Pick" and "Pick Your Own." A red apple, one of many, low hanging, easy to take, not yet too ripe, a decent specimen, fated to be there, now. She comes by with her companions and stops, inspecting his credentials. “I'm for you!” the apple cries. “You can have me right here. Your friends will not think ill of you. Or bring me home, show me off, cut me into bits, bake a strudel, whatever you desire. Don't leave me here to drop and end up in anyone’s applesauce or to rot under winter's snow!” Her hand does not reach for him. "Not red delicious enough for my tastes," she tells her friends. "Someone else can pick that one." From his branch he watches her amble down the path between the rows of apple trees. She looks back, as if remembering their encounter and walks away.
The Potager You are invited by the gardener, weather and mood permitting, to visit her kitchen garden: descended from Roman villas, from monasteries and French farms, it grows near Dexter on Pillar Point whose stones lay drowned by Ontario’s seas. * Down back steps, by the gate, a sensuous ceramic with ancient signs, a gift from a friend I was told. On the left, a woodpile shrouded in plastic is stacked against the house. On the right, a soft-blue table sits near the cool limestone where the garden may be viewed and breakfast taken, by just a few. In the garden’s center, grass with a table and chairs, ringed by herbs, vegetables, roses and lavender - the setting for dinner on warm evenings. A great tree, a willow I recall, bounds the northern side, to the west and south delphiniums bluer than a blue sky inside a white picket fence that could use straightening and paint - or not – constrain the garden's reach. Beyond the fence, fruit trees, a little park, a cistern, a hammock, an arbor with a table. Farther still, the woods, oaks and maples, the look ethereal. * The gardener in her garden: picking flowers, rhubarb, oregano and chives; weeding, pruning, imagining another planting. Listening, laughing, telling of her deceased husband, her sons, and family; friends and collaborators, a love of summers past. Her vision, her labor, her pleasure - when not in town. A place for her of warmth, of friendship, of dark clouds and sudden storms that shatter July's dreams. A garden she made and keeps. She may let you help. * When you leave, take this garden and its mistress with you, in your own way, as I did.
Robert W. Daly, a retired physician and professor, is a member of The Downtown Writers Center, and of the Palace Poetry Group in Syracuse, NY. His poems have appeared in The Healing Muse and thousandislandslife.com, a Canadian on-line journal.