Still Life with Apple

There is an apple on the counter
by the telephone.

There are no messages. If anyone calls
they will not, I think, get through.

If there is light through the window
it is morning, if not, evening.

If there is noise, it is the sound
of noise. No lights blink.

No electronic whistles.
Nothing calls for our attention.

The apple sits in this crust of air.
There are so many ends to green

when even light gives up on colour.
Something about it says it was picked

by hand and placed in tubs with russets
and spartans. Something about it falls

with the weight of rock in mountain passes
rock that takes three days to push away

and on the third it snows
and they let the cars through.

Cold flesh and bruised light.
Even here no one talks

of death or a family’s slow
twistings in the air, only why,

in autumn, before snow,
the mind is so held

by fruit.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Still Life with Apple”?

It was like the cliched image we have of Newton sitting under an apple tree—an apple.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Still Life with Apple”?

Parallel grammatical constructions and an extended metaphor are the meat of this poem. The repeated “light” I think calling back to that Dickinson poem and the phrase “there’s a certain slant of light”. Also, trying to get the idea of a still life (or dead life as it is called in Spanish) into a written form so that one is reminded simultaneously of bounty and mortality at the same time.

This poem “Still Life with Apple” originally appeared in Travel. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 174 (Autumn 2002): 96-97.

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