Poem Therapy 8:35 P.M. July 5, 2012: A Short History of the Apple - Dorianne Laux

apple story yuliya

A Short History of the Apple
Dorianne Laux
The crunch is the thing, a certain joy in crashing through
living tissue, a memory of Neanderthal days.
   —Edward Bunyard, The Anatomy of Dessert, 1929

Teeth at the skin. Anticipation.
Then flesh. Grain on the tongue.
Eve's knees ground in the dirt
of paradise. Newton watching
gravity happen. The history
of apples in each starry core,
every papery chamber's bright
bitter seed. Woody stem
an infant tree. William Tell
and his lucky arrow. Orchards
of the Fertile Crescent. Bushels.
Fire blight. Scab and powdery mildew.
Cedar apple rust. The apple endures.
Born of the wild rose, of crab ancestors.
The first pip raised in Kazakhstan.
Snow White with poison on her lips.
The buried blades of Halloween.
Budding and grafting. John Chapman
in his tin pot hat. Oh Westward
Expansion. Apple pie. American
as. Hard cider. Winter banana.
Melt-in-the-mouth made sweet
by hives of Britain's honeybees:
white man's flies. O eat. O eat.
While I read this poem, I was eating a square of dark Colombian chocolate embedded with passion fruit nibs. A strangely delectable combination.

This poem led me to think of the history and origins of the passion fruit. I know nothing at the moment, but give me a good Google surf session and I'll know something.

Isn't it interesting that fruit is usually associated with sexuality, or transgressive acts in literature and religious texts? Perhaps, because biting into fruit is aggressive and sensual.

What I know, is that eating fruit is one of the great pleasures of life. The berries my father planted last year are ripe, and I am indulging in one of the big seven: gluttony, indulging handfuls of strawberries, gooseberries, red and golden raspberries, currants, huckleberries, and black berries as they ripen. Many times, I have to compete with the birds.

As for apples, I know about the different varieties, and the role this luscious fruit has played through the centuries in history and legend. As for cooking, I've never made an apple pie, but I've made apple crisp, and cinnamon baked apples. Both are delicious. I eat an apple every day. My dogs are not fans of the fruit.

Of course, I know about the apple as an archetype in mythology and the Bible: Eve let the snake tempt her with an apple, which led her to "tempt" Adam, and then everybody got kicked out of the Garden, and then all womankind got a bad rap for too many centuries to count. Sigh. I mean, if the story were anything other than a metaphor, doesn't Adam come across as more passive wimp than victim of seduction?

While I'm on the subject of Adam and Eve, explain this: if Eve was made from Adam's rib, how is it that every embryo follows a female template for the first six weeks? That means every man on the planet was female for the first six weeks of his existence, until the male sex chromosome kicked in.

Oh science, you think you know everything!


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