Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Low-Hanging Fruit"

This poem is spillover from the February Crowdfunding Creative Jam, which generated the Hart's Farm series.  Various folks wanted to see more of Auduna adapting to life in this community; this poem shows what happens when she encounters one of the more peculiar activities that some people enjoy.  It has been selected in an audience poll as the freebie, activated by the several new prompters and donors that this series has attracted.  You can also read about the Akero apples online.


Low-Hanging Fruit


The dessert apples are ripening,
Akero trees hung with pale primrose fruit
blushing pink at the cheeks.

For the harvests, almost everyone pitches in,
so Auduna goes to the orchard.
Lia scrambles nimbly up a ladder
to reach the high branches,
while her daughter Astrid
picks fallen fruit from the ground.

Auduna watches them closely, because
she has never had an apple tree before
and does not know exactly what to do.

Dýrfinna stops beside Auduna,
her long blond hair in a braid down her back,
rust-colored dress comfortable for farm work.
"You can pick with me," Dýrfinna says,
and shows Auduna how to lift and twist the fruit
so that the ripe ones will come away from the branch.

The task is simple, and Auduna learns fast.
She fills a basket which she sets carefully
in the low wagon behind the patient horse.
Then she fills another, and another.

Suddenly Auduna spots something
hanging from an apple tree that is not an apple --
round, yes, but far larger.
She is shocked to discover
that it is Aisling,
curled into a ball and
bound in a net of bright red ropes.

"What in the world ..." Auduna says,
utterly bewildered, "is Aisling doing
hanging from an apple tree?"

"She is pretending to be an apple,"
Dýrfinna replies.  "Don't worry,
one of the men will surely come along
and pick her soon."

Sure enough, Bergren the singer
strolls under the tree to stroke the strange fruit.
"Why, I've found the biggest apple of all!"
he exclaims.  Aisling giggles.

Svanhilda steps out
from behind a nearby tree
and unfastens the rope from its mooring,
carefully lowering Aisling
into Bergren's waiting arms.
She loops the long end of the rope
artfully over his shoulders for extra support.

Bergren carries Aisling away.
Svanhilda takes up a basket and resumes
picking quite ordinary apples from the tree
as if nothing remarkable had happened.
Auduna is still standing there, staring,
with her mouth open.

Dýrfinna gives Auduna a nudge, saying,
"That basket won't fill itself, you know."
"Why to they do that?" Auduna whispers.
"It seems like such a peculiar thing!"

Dýrfinna shrugs.  "They enjoy it," she says. 
"Svanhilda likes to play with rope.
Aisling likes surprises,
and that dreamy way the mind gets
when one doesn't have to do or decide anything.
Bergren likes Aisling, and happened to find her first."

"But why doesn't anyone say  anything?"
Auduna asks.
"You mean besides 'Have fun!' ...?"
Dýrfinna says.
Auduna nods, still baffled.

"For the same reason nobody says anything
about that baby you're expecting,
besides 'Congratulations.'  It's not doing any harm,
so there's no need to make a fuss about it,"
Dýrfinna explains.

In the village, when Auduna had sought work,
everyone and her pet hen had something to say
about her baby, or rather, her lack of a husband.
It was an easy thing to pick at, like low-hanging fruit,
whether it was any of their business or not.

Here, though, everyone seems to know
everyone else's business without ... minding, so much.
They simply do things with each other,
and for each other, and that is apparently that.
There is Svanhilda holding the ladder for Lia
and Astrid carrying Svanhilda's basket to the wagon.

Auduna looks at the orchard, then looks
down the row where Bergren and Aisling had gone.
At last she goes back to gathering fruit.
"All right," she says to Dýrfinna.

She doesn't think she could get used to
all the grumbling gossip in the village,
but a girl who likes to be an apple occasionally?
Auduna thinks she could get used to that.

Tags: community, cyberfunded creativity, gender studies, history, poem, poetry, reading, romance, writing
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