The hardy little trees at Union Lake Orchard
have given up their bounty
and today the remains—imperfect
Red Havens & Harmonies, Madisons, Belles & Beauties—
are heaped willy-nilly in a shallow wooden box
on a plywood table. Seconds.
This harvest is a second chance,
another run at summer
like the one we took upriver
last evening, a late sail
before a soft wind
into the grassy, shadowy shallows.
September sunset stained the Salmon Falls
like the deep garnet bruises
on this season’s last peaches,
sweet reminders of longer days.
We fell asleep before moonrise,
before the last of the tide’s ebb
and were woken, in the gray of 2 am,
by the suck and settle of the boat
as it sighed then tilted into the river’s bed of dark mud.
Nothing for it but to brace against the steep list
and wait, like those terra cotta
Chinese guardians of tombs,
for the turning.
“Reprieve” first appeared in Hanging Loose Magazine, #81.