'of the fruit of the tree'
Did it (as she reported in that flap of a note
hanging on the fridge) taste good to her?
What mystery was she trying to convey,
what was she looking for
in the gold mantle between skin and stone?
To eat an apple, leaving others behind
since one could hardly eat them all, seems
unremarkable, a gesture, hardly a sin.
To eat every plum was a fruition,
a challenge to the notion they were his to be taken.
She said nothing. He was none the wiser
judging by the lack of any answer.
He knows nothing of the way it whispers to her —
blackwash in the foliage
where the branches are thickest
where all the stories converge
where the darkness at its centre speaks.
In our growing knowledge of where we were heading
we planted a tree that would always be early
into budbreak, early into leaf-fall
becoming a different shape while last year’s lingered
fretwork in the frost.
Anyway, he had no idea what was in the fridge,
never regretted what could be replaced through those snaplatch years.
But she was dismayed by how much could be taken
Somehow the way she holds the dimpled sphere
the tender token of its corona
seems to fit the fable better than the apple’s bitter seeds,
its spat success, strewn before strife, before war.
Sparks sprang from my mattock like a gangster’s matches.
Still, it grew: backweird limbs determined to cross
even as they carved into one another. Yet you mourned
every pruning: how could I not love a tree so dear to you?
so she leaves this note on the fridge, saying
she’s sorry she’s eaten all the plums et cetera…
thinking of another life they might have led,
she says sometimes,
testing him, testing them:
They don’t peer back, shoulder to shoulder, into the gold haze.
No celestial font, no blazing escutcheon
sees them off, their departure unproclaimed,
yet still the past seems to speak to them,
unbidden, from another room
in a silent house:
Heartstock. Dark fruit amongst the darker leaves.
Summer ends with a thunderstorm, a gold and purple flourish
you angrily sorting detritus in the shed
me watching from the kitchen
the sparse and speckled savour
of antique words in my mouth:
I have eaten
University of Canberra International Poetry Prize anthology 2019