In those days I thought their brief harvest
was the tremendous wheel that turned the seasons,
the years. On the dirt trails that veined
the groves I’d see them fallen red, green,
bruised as beaten flesh.
All those September weekends suburban
to rural my father drove us
through frosty mornings I’d spring awake to,
excitement my alarm clock. Evenings,
downpours drummed the roof,
my parents silent. For hours.
Even then I knew something of love
was callous, aloof. My mother broke
the silence to read me bedtime stories,
the butterfly broach my father pinned
to her sweater tarnished, its wings pocked
with missing crystals. Wrinkles creased
her forehead, easing a little as she spoke
of goblins that mined the mountains
able to swallow a child whole,
of princesses whose kisses could transform
toads to princes—the trance of apple groves
always glimmering through those dark forests.
My father would hold my hand, pointing out
different types plump above unkempt grass
Until I got lost, lost among so much discarded fruit,
so many names, their hundred bodies spoiled
beneath his boots.
After picking he would hold me in the rocking chair,
football sportscasters a stable plot over the silence.
Fruit flies orbited the apple, marked with our mouths,
in his hand, his face floating over mine
the house pregnant with tension,
delicate and dangerous as the human heart.
Domenic Scopa is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. He is a student of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program, where he studies poetry and translation, and he is a literature professor at Changing Lives Through Literature. His poetry and translations have been featured nationally and internationally in Poetry Quarterly, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Belleville Park Pages, Visions International, Cardinal Sins, Misfit Magazine, Poetry Pacific, and many others. He currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts.