Donald Levering: “Apple Tree—My Son Enters Recovery”


Haven’t been to church

since before his injured shoulder

and the pills and fumes

(in place of food and rest)

that filled him with the emptiness

of the used car lot balloon man

tethered to a clunker,

whapping in the winds.

Haven’t practiced gratitude

or giving in to grace.

Been too busy cringing,

eking out excuses.

But now and again I get glimpses—

like the stray kitten I let in

made of play, or the call from my son

to say he was clean

and was craving our apple crisp.

How could he have known

of the ancient apple tree’s revival?

After the sorry output of recent years

how can it be so bountiful?

So many laden baskets,

so many batches of sauce.

The house seems to levitate

on the scent of simmering apples.

And the compost brims with wormy scraps

carved out of abundance.

Donald Levering‘s most recent poetry book, Any Song Will Do, was published by Red Mountain Press in 2019. His previous book, Coltrane’s God, was Runner-Up in the 2016 New England Book Festival contest in poetry. Before that, The Water Leveling with Us, placed second in the 2015 National Federation of Press Women Book Award in Creative Verse. Levering is a former NEA Fellow, who has won the 2018 Carve magazine contest, the 2017 Tor House Robinson Jeffers Prize, and the 2014 Literal Latté prize.

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