Phaeacia’s Orchard

Emilia Phillips

                   — a version

Behind the craftsman, twenty feet from the screen

door, the orchard stretched an acre deep, chicken wire

strung along its length, post to post, between our

yards. The trees tangled and diseased, though enough remained

to waste; that which fell with juice contusioned,

softening where it rest, until the sun, if it made it

through the trees, roiled the upside to split and spew, seeping ferment —

a taste in the wind that, before a storm, combed the leaves

to their pale undersides like the blighted backs

of knees revealed by a windblown skirt. Red and black

plums, Alleghenys crowding apricot as the poor peaches beggered

the sun. Inside their fireplace, two tires waited for

winter beneath a black rose of soot on the mantel. And here

in the side yard, a flower garden fit for kings, and beyond it, the tilled

rows of beans. In curlers, his wife trampled the sunflowers

when she neglected her lithium. The plums first reddened

like the cheeks of Eros and then darkened as if to bruise,

and there by the last rows, a compost heap held the fallen

fruits from which the flesh shrugged off to the pit, glistening

and sticky and host to fly and beetle and nit, year

in, year out. And last, there was a ditch rippling in spring

with rain flooded fluorescent with pollen that dried in summer

and revealed a half-buried empty can of candied yams and the fossils

of his boot from when he stumbled in and drew

water into his sock.

                                Such was the affluence of the dilettante’s

orchard, the glories of the mundane. And there I stood

at the fence while I was handed one after

                                                                another plum by Mr. King,

my arms deltaed in sweet, until we were both called

inside by screams that’d borne so much, in their gaze.

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