Orchard in the Woods

1Red spruce and fir have crossed the broken lines
2Where ragged fences ran; ground-juniper
3Covers the sunny slope where currant bushes
4Blackened their hanging clusters in green leaves.
5Where oats and timothy moved like leaning water
6Under the cloudy sweep of August wind,
7The crop is stunted alders and tall ferns.
8Above the cellar’s crust of falling stone
9Where timbered walls endured the treacherous
10Traffic of frost and sunlight, nothing stands…
11Under the wreckage of the vanished barn
12A woodchuck burrows. Where the dooryard was,
13The matted grass of years encloses now
14Two horseshoes and a rusted wagon-tire.
15Only the apples trees recall the dream
16That flowered here – in love and sweat and growth,
17Anger and longing. Tough and dark and wild,
18Grown big of stump, rough in the bark and old,
19They still put forth a light ironic bloom
20Against the green utility of spruce.
21Clearing and field and buildings gone to waste –
22But in the fall, a gunner going home
23will halt a moment, lift a hand to reach
24One dusky branch above the crooked track,
25And, thinking idly of his kitchen fire,
26Bite to the small black shining seeds and learn
27The taste of ninety seasons, hard and sweet.
RPO poem Editors: 
Jim Johnstone
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Poem used with permission of the Charles Bruce Estate.