Orchard Song

by Ellen Stone

—for Timothy and Linda on their Wedding Day

In April the orchard swells and opens slowly

as the rains come.

The apple trees are damp and foggy

in anticipation.

You, brother, walk in a mist to find

the exact place you played as a child,

the tree whose broad spread held your house,

the place you made your own.

The orchard holds you there in the cool morning

full and quiet, waiting for your life to begin

all over again.

Under these trees you have planted potatoes, hoed tomatoes,

felt the strong summer sun on your back.

Each fall you climbed to pick the highest apples,

the last and sweetest.

The snows banked the orhard in, come winter.

We tramped through to check who’d come before us,

the whispery trail of field mice, rabbit track loops,

and the hungry pawing marks of whitetail deer

searching for apples left under the trees.

Spring is the sweetest time in the orchard.

Even before the stirring of green,

we gathered to watch the old grass burn,

and feel the March wind sting our young and hopeful faces.

Now it is the season of blossoms.

Soon the trees will spill

open in cream and rose tipped blooms.

You are here under these trees waiting,

waiting for the trees to break into flower,

waiting for the blinding scent of the apple trees

to tell you where you are going next,

waiting for the one person you knew would be here

to hold your hand and your heart.

Come with me.

Come with me

to the apple tree.

Let the bees in the air

make a crown for your hair,

and the blossoms nest

in your arms for a dress.

Marry me.

Marry me

beneath the sweet cool green

of the apple tree.

—About the Poet:

Ellen Stone was raised on Spring Hill in Bradford County, Pennyslvania, above the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. A graduate of Wyalusing Valley High School, Ellen wrote her first poems after graduating from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in 1981. Much of her work is rooted in the the rural landscape of the places she has lived—Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas, and Michigan. Ellen taught special education in public schools in Kansas and Michigan for over thirty years. She advises a poetry club at Community High School and co-hosts a monthly reading series in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she raised three daughters with her husband, Roger Lauer. Ellen is author of What Is in the Blood (Mayapple Press, 2020) and The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013). Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She may be be contacted at http://www.ellenstone.org.

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