I stand planted underneath
my twisted old apple tree
and peer up into late January.
Dark branches break open
the grey sky.
Too many branches mean
dense Summer leaves will choke
out July’s sunlight
any breeze will strangle and fall dead
encouraging disease and rot.
That’s no way to grow apples.
I pause and follow each branch,
carefully tracing criss-crossing patterns along
each dark line from tip to base and tip again.
Cold slips into the small space
between coat and gloves.
I stand still staring up
seeing the way Summer sunlight will sift through leaves
how August breezes will sing along branches.
The first cut is always the hardest
letting go always is.
A small pile of
slender discarded whips
grows steadily beside the heavy trunk
making room for air
Here in the middle of Winter
face bright and stiff with cold.
I peer up through these branches
into a bright January Afternoon
to find the sunlight of July
the breeze in August
and Apples in September.
Photo Credit: Anita Bowen Photography