Madeline Silverman

The ancient dignified apple tree

that stands

as the proud guardian

of my home

didn’t bear fruit this year

and even though we all knew this was to be expected,

it still shook us to our roots.

The tradition that we love must

hibernate until next fall.


‍Last year,

after the dirty boots and hands--

soiled from

stacking wood into neat rows

and waking potatoes from their deep slumber--

had been washed,

we would seek refuge

in the fact that

as soon as we tramped in the door,

the roaming scent of apples and cinnamon

and my mother’s love

would sweep us up

and we would be nourished.



she and I

would peer into

steaming pots of pink velvet

and we would

stir and adjust.

We wouldn’t even have to

talk to understand the thread that bound us tight.

And although I griped and moaned

about the time wasted

picking and


and slicing



there is something unmistakably absent

amongst the smell of crisp air,

sharp like a pleat,

and the tangy smell of sweat

after the chores.

There will be no applesauce this year.


That tree,

that graceful, venerable tree,

was just too tired.


We’ll carry our

tradition and hope

into next year.

Fragments Copyright © 2021, English Department, Seattle University.

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