After Apple-picking, After Frost
With Frost, it’s all about frost. He’s got
a crop to harvest. That’s what it seems like.
I don’t mind that he’s a curmudgeon. I heard
he was a bad father. Who knows what kind of husband?
I only know him as a poet, a swinger of birches—used to be, anyway.
I know him as somebody who outwalked the furthest city lights,
as one acquainted with the night. And so on.
He didn’t know if the world would end in fire.
Or in ice. And once by the pacific (should I say
“Once by the Pacific” since that is what he said?)
he intoned the glum evangelist’s ire:
“It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.”
Why not? I’ve loved his Ingmar-American-Bergman nod—
(“Word was I was in my life alone/Word was I had no one left but God.”)
Cold comfort there, despite the moth-bit, hand-knit sweaters.
He’s spot on; we die—by fire or ice, what does it matter?
And in “After Apple-picking” he’s tired, a pane of glass
From the drinking trough that’s just ice just shatters.
It’s no mirror, no clue whether he will sleep for good
or just sleep somehow. But he says, without doubt,
“I’m done for apple-picking now.”
But I have been picking of late from this delicate harvest,
A tall daughter beside me, reaching beyond me.
Our fingers sticky, our sacks heavy, our feet in the mud
No foreboding or theology in our late summer plunder.
No Frost to chide me, tramping through trees—
Ambrosia and Empire, Winesap and Spies—all the names runes
for Eden’s lost promise.
Unless Frost and God were both a bit wrong—
and what a wonder, what resurrection—
if there were still summer in fall.