I stand firm in the rich dirt, red bulbous ornaments adorning my limbs. I can look over this vast orchard, cradling my fruits amidst the other apple trees, swaying them gently and kissing the dew off their skins to taste the night. My fruits are all different, and I cherish each one. Some are smooth, some are riddled with indents, and all have spots of yellow and flecks of green. Much like the humans that dance through the rows between us, the apples are made the same but are all unique. You have a worm? You’re still precious. You’re bruised and your stem is knotted? Precious one, don’t be ashamed. You wouldn’t be an earthling if your sweet body did not reflect the Earth.
I was once a tiny fragile bud
Seeking nourishment from the mud.
I blossomed, grew, and turned shade to shade,
Just look at what my mother made!
My body is spherical like mama herself,
And soon I’ll be giving some animal good health.
I am red and white and yellow and green,
Am I not a beautiful baby to be seen?
Deer came one early morning, taking deliberate, graceful steps around the trees. They stretched their velvety necks and plucked some fruit from the branches, their mouths crackling and their eyes bright. I was just a silhouette at the time, black and spidery against the orange sky. I offered my fruit to the limber creatures. I would offer my fruit to anyone. One deer, a fawn, pressed himself against my trunk. His soft fur was like moss against my bark. He bit at an apple, and it broke in half. A dear fruit for a delicate deer. I have always remembered this morning, this morning shared between a tree and a fawn.
My flesh cries out to feel the teeth
Of something more than a jagged leaf.
Choose me, amiable deer,
You and I have nothing to fear.
For in the next life I will be the deer,
And you will be the apple lingering near.
Don’t hesitate to grab me,
So I will finally be free.
Other earthlings came around as well. Squirrels scampered up my belly and bats wrapped themselves around my fruit and sucked out their dulcet juices. Humans came to gather apples in woven baskets. They wandered the dirt paths, scanning the branches for the choicest fruit. I liked when one would climb me. It felt like acupuncture needles were all over my branches. I noticed one evening, after a band of humans left, that my leaves were as colorful as my apples, if not more. They would fall soon, along with my children. Hurry fellow earthlings, come to the orchard and claim your taste before winter frost snaps my fruit from my arms.
My favorite creatures by far were bats,
I could feel their wings brushing me past.
One once licked my shivering peel,
Go on and bite me, that’s the deal.
I savored its breath
Even after it left.
Humans were nice, with their chattering speak,
A bit rough at times but ones to keep.
Most of my apples were gone now, taken by humans or munched on by deer or whittled away by the bats. Leaves fell from my body, leaving me bare and strong. The first frost came, and any remaining fruit plunged to the icy dirt. My limbs shivered in the wind, my trunk burrowed deep into the ground. I prepared for a beautiful hell, and I only hope my fruit did as well. The night brought ice and flakes of crystal, coating me in a waxy watery film.
The winds are coming, cold and bleak,
No fruit is safe when the clouds creak.
I fall to the Earth, shaking with cold,
Feeling ever so very old.
Goodnight my tree, I thank you dearly,
But death has come, not visiting merely.
I’ll close my eyes and think of the bat,
The deer, the squirrel, the skunk, the cat.
What a life I’ve had for a simple fruit!
Traveling my mind in this stardust suit.
I’ve seen the sun rise every day,
There’s nothing more that you can say.
Winter came, and although I was surrounded by fellow trees, I missed my leaves and blossoms and apples. The deer came scarcely, the bats hid away in their caves. What a life for a tree. I feel so young and yet I’ve lost count of my winters. Here I stand, in the hardened earth, reflecting on the autumn of my youth. This beautiful, fruitless hell. I will honor winter and reflect and let go, but the other seasons give me more.
My skin has molded into a puddle,
I am at the base of my tree in a huddle.
I’m spotted and soft,
No one would hold me aloft.
But I still feel beautiful next to my tree,
Unique and magical and all things apple.
Yes, in the study of Earth I do dapple,
For how can I not if I am an apple?
Yes, in the wisdom of trees I do dapple.
I’ll return, my tree, and return to me.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.