Apple Picking in Autumn
Matt Philips

All the proud fathers must go back home
eventually—otherwise, there is nowhere
to roost. Some things need order; this is one
of those things. The men by their conduct
mark such necessities: wake, shave, sweat,
eat & sleep. Without it, there is no order.

A man can do anything he wants, so long
as he keeps the ways of things. A man
can sleep anywhere but he only roosts
in his own home. He’s only a drunkard
if he cannot get back home at night.

Sometimes, something happens to forebode
a loss in order. A breakage in the chain.
A farm-boy talks like Cicero & stands
like Rutherford B. Hayes. The fathers
don’t mind this, but they do scorn it.

Life here is too short for dreams. If the boughs
of the apple trees yield fruit this autumn, it is
not an act of God, just cause for eating apples.
And it is not a reason to dream of going away.
There will come another storm before anyone
has the time: all the proud fathers know this.

And so things go on in this manner in the town
that fears Death, as all towns do: He comes gaunt
& thin to their homesteads, plainly attired
in a grey suit with pleats to be let out.

Inside, He is poured coffee & broods patiently
at table. Who among them is ready to go?