Madeline Worcester


Apples to Apples

I am trapped in a distant dream again.
It's October; per usual, I'm alone.
The crisp, autumn air clings to my skin;
The dust stirs and floats—suspended, lingering.
I wander the old orchard’s dark path,
And I stumble across an apple tree.

“What is it like being a tree?”
I ask the silent being, over and over again.
With no reply, I step off the path:
Slowly like a newborn fawn, alone
And I lean against his trunk, lingering—
Allowing his textured bark to pattern my skin

Barren branches come to life beneath my skin,
As interruption of our contact wakes the sleeping tree
“Why do you insist on lingering?”
He whispers. I gather my courage and query again.
His knotted eyes dart to ensure that we are alone,
But it was only us beside the empty path.

“To be a tree is a rather unsatisfactory path,”
He muses. “Every animal in winter sheds his summer skin
Just as every tree braves the icy months alone
To be stripped bare and die for the harvest, that is the life of a tree
To give everything and yet to die, again and again
So that others might enjoy the taste of cider, ever-lingering.

Only the rotten remnants of forgotten labors linger,
Dotting the ground as Eden disappears beyond the path,
Leaving us trees very much alone again.”
A sharp gust of wind sends spidery chills across my skin,
And I swallow upon hearing the story of the tree.
I too have lost everything, and I am alone.

My journey to reality must be made alone.
I stop myself from further lingering,
Bid farewell to the lonesome tree,
Retrace my steps along the path,
And feel the brittle words of others against my skin.
I awake to swollen eyes and damp cheeks—again.

Alone, I have always walked a somber path,
With autumn’s residue lingering on my skin.
May I only become a tree myself to begin again.