My Father Amongst Apple Trees.
His evening walks took him past the Crows’ Wood
to the orchards. Wistful amongst the apple trees,
he recited the litany of remembered varieties:
Worcester Pearmain, a reliable cropper, flushed orange-red,
Beauty of Bath, an early sweet certainty,
Cox’s Orange Pippin he knew by its stippled skin.
He was happy amongst the crisp and sweet,
the tang and tart of a good yield,
rustled his hands through branches and leaves
to feel the heavy cluster of the crop, taut and glistening.
His was a sharp appraisal.
He winced at the wilt of firebright, apple scab
and canker, but praised the work
when pruning cuts were treated with wound paint:
‘A job done well once is done twice’.
That last September, from his sick bed he instructed us
to wrap each apple in newspaper,
store them in a cool place.
No fruit would mush to cidery collapse
or leak a fetid squelch of blue mould spores,
not on my father’s watch.