Gravenstein Dreams

The August perfume
of Gravenstein apples
pervades my sleep.
A plop of fruit
dropping to soft earth
wakes me; the North Star
glints through the window.
The years since this
was home

Between rows of propped
apple trees, a nine-year old
first falls in love
with night’s magic.
On a canvas tarp thrown down
over the burn pile’s charcoal remains,
he tries to count all the stars,
find Orion, the Great Bear,
the Northern Crown.
Distractions-shooting stars,
satellites, barn owl screech,
a toad plumping in the dust,
horse hooves
clipping stones in the pasture –
and finally, sleep
breaks the tally
short of completion.

Even now, Sonoma’s hills and trees
rule my sleep’s geography.
In that country, the boy
clings to hay bales stacked
four high in back of his father’s
’63 Chevy truck as they bump
across an old flower seed farm’s
cracked adobe, away from a stack
the size of three whales
laid end to end;
chaff flies into his hair
and red-winged blackbirds
erupt from grain the balers missed.
At dawn, he creeps

in wet, waist-high sedges
on the Laguna de Santa Rosa’s banks;
a great blue heron glides
between grey valley oak trunks
and drops through mists
pooled over murky waters.
Father and son
slosh buckets of water on seedlings
as tongues of fog race eastward,
maroon and salmon
in the setting sun.

Some nights I wander
the Santa Cruz Mountains’ foothills
above my adopted home
of Silicon Valley.
Frenzy possesses
the nightscape below-
engines roar and tires squeal
over its asphalt shell-
so unlike the cricket darkness
of this summer orchard
in Sonoma’s western hills.

More barking dogs break the stillness,
more trucks and commuters
now rumble on Gravenstein Highway.
The Northwestern Pacific tracks
are torn up; the cannery’s closed,
clanking machinery silent.
Fermented pommace
and vinegar rankness
no longer fill morning air.

Yet dark streaked apples
still bow the branches,
and fallen fruit
crunches underfoot…

(appeared in the chapbook Forgework)


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