The Orchard


Rain spoiled the fruit, they clot the nets—
these oblivious, night-black plums—dropped off
to bloom white mould, and shrink, and curdle
like so much pelagic mass hauled up
to dry in the drag-net off Nantucket or

Here, between the trunks in cemetery rows—
where glass-eyed flies once clung to fruit,
and burst like dandelion heads as we passed
above the matted undulations of the grass
shot through with rusty pickets—jutting up

Like galleon bones, half sunk in silt
and scoured pips—mis-sown by time to bare
the porous ridges where their flesh hooked on
much as it does in us, still straining dark
and silent as a dragline in the empty sea,

Or the grass that snarling wrecks the wall
where a fig switch sits—snapped at the brittle joint,
and a trough inclines the rain, whose skin of light
crosscut by fine black furrows of shade
is like the scale-wrapped flank of a fish.

I realise I am sweeping your grave, when—
somewhere, a magpie sings, and I look up
through the naked lattice of the plum
and I see the sky is white, with one red edge,
like a segment from a peach.

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