Apple Chill

Orchard branches gnarled,

You plucked an apple,

Sepia-grained red,

And sliced into the flesh—

Pale, seed-dimpled halves

Tartly chilled in our mouths;

The quarter horses

Nuzzled yellow grass

And nibbled their fill

Of bruised ripening,

Lips velvet and damp.

* * * * *

Dabbling in poetry is a fun exercise for prose writers. Working with an economy of language and images is a fresh change in my routine. I find syllabic poetry liberating. The number of syllables—whether fixed or constrained—takes on primary importance whereas stresses become secondary. Marianne Moore, one of my favorite poets, was a master of syllabic poetry.

In an interview (Marianne Moore, The Art of Poetry No. 4, Paris Review), Donald Hall asked about “the rationale behind syllabic verse.”  Moore answered in her beautifully straightforward manner, “It never occurred to me that what I wrote was something to define. I am governed by the pull of the sentence as the pull of a fabric is governed by gravity. I like the end-stopped line and dislike the reversed order of words; like symmetry.”

Learn more about Marianne Moore at The Poetry Foundation.



  1. Bea dM

    many thanks for this post that has both the attraction of succulent apples and matching poem, and the link to the Marianne Moore interview which is in itself a vademecum on writing poetry

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