The Corner

The Scent of Apples

As one comes upon the last days of autumn,

after the long rain that brings down the old leaves,

the sky dark, and brooding, the harvest in,

and its moon, passed, All Hallow’s Eve, and the

holy day itself, long gone, the harshness

of the new season hangs in a slow,

declining hour, poised as the grip on the

ancient bow of the god of the wind and

the dead, a Celtic twilight across the land,

drawn back and released, darker at its unknown,

appointed hour, driving the howling, surging

wind; as the huntsman, hounds, and riders of

the storm, and darkness, are unleashed, thundering

through the night, so is a hope, still with us,

that we shall be free of them, their curses,

and their sins; that we shall not offend them,

and carry the curse to new generations;

but may, instead, receive a little meat

from the boar, or pieces of silver, or

good fortune. And the blessing of their

passing without unspeakable desecration,

or even a new death; arrows of an

arbitrary darkness, a dawn chill as

an open wound, sacrifice of unsettled

fears, day upon night, where the dream and the

waking life lose the meaning of any

distinction between them, and build clarity;

calm after first light, that deepens with the

new day, when we are reminded of other

forces, and may enjoy a reprieve of

expiation, calm for both the living

and the dead. As the angels of the four winds

bear a gift of fruit and sweetness, from the

reserve always somewhere surviving the

crowding darkness, the tortured souls

of the unholy huntsmen; as a relief

that lingers like a long summer day,

in the surprising scent of apples

overspreading the weary land,

in the light, like a moon of lost desires,

that follows the thunder of their passing.

— This poem appeared in the March 10, 2014, print issue of National Review.

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