Stephanie Dickinson

Apple Blossom

Apples blossoms soil the earth

so she has to wade into the orchard,

the tree groaning when the girl

chins herself up, swinging her leg

over the limb, nubs scratching

her waistband, until

she reaches the farthest branch

where the blossoms are—

an extravagance, apple blossom white

lip-skin pink, each petal, a corsage,

every stem and twig sweated in scent.

She’d like to have this perfume,

to revel in it, but a girl brought up

by two strong willed women

must be weak, tentative. The sugary-

smelling mixes with the manure pile

and in the farmhouse kitchen

hymns are being sung.

She climbs higher into tickling blossom,

a veil between her and How Great Thou Art.

Grandma’s voice breaks like a crack in

the ceiling when she tries to hit the high notes.

The verses come in gray waves.

If she picks the bloom what will happen

to the apple? Will it shrivel, never live?

She rubs blossom on her neck, her wrists,

floating them down her shirt.

She is dying of goodness and wishes

these blooms were wounds.