Ice Apples by Henrietta Goodman


Were you a real apple once? I mean decades
ago, as a little boy in plaid flannel eating
peanuts in that faded picture. By ice apple,
I mean a mold with no cast. In those orchards
in the frozen Midwest, or on the unpruned tree
in your backyard, mined by worms, slurped
by bees, they shriveled, then froze and fell,
leaving ice globes hanging like ornaments.
You ran an ad and the gleaners came and raked
the ground to feed pigs, or maybe boil
into a not-quite-spoiled sauce. That was me,
gleaning in the aftermath of your season’s
end. That summer night we drank ice wine
at your mother’s house, we were sitting,
you said, on the Eastern Continental Divide.
Proudly, you dribbled a little watered-down
wine off the porch, said if you poured your glass
out the front door, it would flow to the Atlantic,
and out the back, to the Pacific. There on Ridge
Avenue above the former swamp, above
the confused river flowing backward forever
now, there on the North Shore, you weren’t
even right about which divide you grew up on—
the Saint Lawrence River Divide, not the Eastern
Continental. There are more divides than you
knew, and the one your mother still straddles
is mostly obsolete and has been since the reversal
of the Chicago River, and the wine you poured
out the front would have flowed to the Gulf
of Mexico, and out the back, to the Labrador Sea.
One more on the long list of things that made you
special, that and having sex with John Cusack’s
little sister—I know, not Joan, the other one.
The position? Reverse cowgirl. Location?
That house on the divide, or was it at the lake,
on the dock, in plain sight? On your list
of things that made you special, that and being
what? That and being.

Photo by Peter von Bagh, used and adapted under CC.