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Manitou Apple

by Mark Smith

The Manitou AppleWe parked under the walnut trees, perched on a small hillside near the farm, and the boy driving the truck explained how the roots were even more valuable than the rest of the tree. A point of interest. Desolation, but still the gentle dappled shade. Somebody was here once. The rich texture of dream pervades it all, every picture I took saturated with Mediterranean richness. And what will you remember of that day? An old red truck pulls up beside a house. People, perfect strangers, sit on bench seats with us. One fat man blabs a lot. We have peeled our sweatshirts as the dew lifts. A light breeze, building. Your mother 's arm and mine entwine behind your head. The grass is green, the sky is blue, the house is white, and apples on the hill are ripe for picking.

We pile out into the deep grass. You and I make for the apple trees, beyond the single fenced-in grave, above the farmhouse. Puffy clouds pass behind the tree. When I was a kid, this is how we did it, I say, throwing ground apples up, knocking off new ones for us. Watch them. We pack our pockets and eat right there. Oh, yes. These are good.

The others have discovered other sights and gather in their own amenable knots around the boy. We meet them at the grave site down the hill. You and I pass apples to your mother, and I think about the man who planted the trees. This could not be the way he planned it out. Still, fruit wants to be eaten.

We climb back in the truck and we are still eating apples when we pull up later at the cemetery. Lard-ass stands beside the truck. "I don't do graveyards," he says. Let's not kid ourselves. The wind builds.

Later the eight foot waves would shove the snout of the ferry down from behind, a following wind, sickening. Water rushes under us and we must lift our feet. Inside the carapace of hull, your mother next to me and tense, you on my lap and laughing, and I, talking of other times and other places, changing the subject for two full hours, holding you both in safety, somehow, not thinking. The island in the eight foot surf, an apple safely in my bag, the three of us inside the boat, and you perched on my lap and laughing, laughing all the way.

Mark Smith is the editor of the Beechnut Review, a seasonal offering of fine writing from Leland School students and teachers. Read more in the Winter Edition of the Beechnut Review.
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