Charles Crawford was born in Asia and writes creatively as a student at the University of Iowa. His likes include tap water and debauchery, and he is horrified by bees. He is not allergic to them, just terrified by their presence. One stung him in the ear as a child. Perhaps that is to blame.
The Apple Tree
As a kid I often caught my mother smoking—
Cloves, mostly, sometimes Camels— though one
Time I saw her light a joint beneath the apples
Of her wedding gift from uncle Leo, who said it reflected the soul
Of her marriage to his brother. He told a lie,
Though. Their marriage was never so perfect as that tree. No
Matter, because uncle Leo couldn’t know
That my mother would not always be the smoking
Vixen she was then, or that my father would lie
Sincerely, to me and to contemptible men, more than one
Time, to get away from her too-pure soul,
And her stabbing wit. And he hated her silent fits. But the apples
On uncle Leo’s tree were absolutely perfect; the apples
Belonged in the garden of the Hesperides. I know
They’d have been appreciated there: After all, nymphs are the sole
Purveyors of the truly perfect things, like smoking
A cigarette in a field with your beautiful mother one
Sunday, when the grass is thick and moist where you and she lie.
The first time I caught my father in a lie
Uncle Leo’s tree was barren of Apples.
I asked him “Did you eat the last one?”
He licked his lips and said “No”.
But he didn’t know I’d been smoking
Out by the barn. It was fate that I watched him pick the sole
Fruit from the low branches of our tree. If he ever had a soul
It’s in Hades right now. I remember many things about him; the lye
Burns I got the day he disappeared, how distracted he was, smoking
his stinking cigars. I remember, too, staring at the apples
Of the tree one day listening to him. He didn’t know
That I was on the other phone
While he spoke with the asylum, the same one
That would come for my mother, who’s only flaw was sincerity. Her soul
Would not let her tell the men who came that she was not insane. I know
She did not want to go, but she could not tell a lie.
When they came to carry her away, Aeolus roused the winds. Falling apples
Bruised the men as they led her off: She spent her remaining years smoking
In an asylum on a hill. She nearly hung herself more than once. No one there spoke to her
And she got so lonely. But I will not lie, smoking was not her sole solace.
I brought her apples every day, until the tree died. After that she would see me no more.