On planting apple trees with Martin L.// &other radical decisions

a sketch that has nothing to do with the poem other than it has a beautiful imperfection that calms me down somehow...smiles

a sketch that has nothing to do with the poem other than it has a beautiful imperfection that calms me down somehow…smiles


“dad had an accident”
my daughter’s voice on the phone shakes
“he’s in the hospital &–“
i stand in my bike clothes, sweaty, tousled
in the kitchen, just back from work

“ok – i’ll be there in a minute”
life’s fragility in every fiber on my dress
he looks severely damaged,

heavy swollen cheek
where the frame bent
bruised&scratches on his chin, arm, legs&
he’s home again
“they checked me, nothing splintered or such,
nice that you’re visiting–”
i cook coffee//tea

“your poetry” he smiles
how literally can you take it?”
“cause when you wrote about that visit to the funpark and–“
“you read that one?”

i help him put socks on&
“you need some rest” i smile
“you look awful–“

tomorrow i will drive my friend
to the hospital
for a cancer surgery
“i’m gonna cut the hairdresser’s appointment
next week&– ” she says

“don’t” i shake my head “you’ll go”
“it’s useless”
“martin luther said that
if he knew the world would stop tomorrow,
he’d plant an apple tree today–
that’s what we do”

“it’s crazy”
“it’s insane//ly brave”

i pour oil into a bowl, smell the olives,
fine-slice over-ripe tomatoes, juice-seas
at my fingertips, salt//pepper
as if life spins on///forever
comfortably nestled in the globe’s curved chest,

&cling to his promises
with shivering,

clay-caked hands


42 responses to “On planting apple trees with Martin L.// &other radical decisions

  1. I love this for many reasons – the tone, the events (though I am very sorry for the accident. I hope your husband recovers quickly) and the promise of planting apple trees now. 🙂

  2. that he is reading your poetry made me smile…that is important if he wants to know your heart…and your friend facing cancer…it is brave to live on…no matter how long we have…and keep hope alive as well…not let it rob us of that….live brave…smiles.

  3. So many connections, mirrors and echoes. You are blessed to have a spouse who takes interest in your writing. May your blessings go on and on.

  4. So many emotional peeks into all that you are going through. I lost a lot of hair when I first began taking meds for my transplant. I had what was left cut short, dyed red and spiked. Figured it was a chance to be a bit wild. I’m going to e-mail you a villanelle I wrote based on accompanying a friend through chemo. Hope the hubs in doing okay. You too.

  5. I hope your hubby mends well ~ I did wonder if he read your poetry lately considering the situation ~ I like the idea of planting apple trees ~ Have a wonderful and peaceful weekend ~

  6. My new favorite of all your poems and drawings! To be “comfortable nestled in the globe’s curved chest” is a help, even when clinging to fragile hope instead of speaking–even when helping other’s to heal when we are cracking from pain ourselves. We function, smile, cook, feed with hands of clay, mere clay, holy clay. Oh Claudia, how you voice the voiceless, and even put bicycles in.

  7. This is the third time within a couple of weeks that I have come across the line about Martin Luther and the apple tree. I like the idea that tomorrow should always be at the back of out minds. I guess it is important to have a future to look forward to, especially when the present is not so kind.
    I hope your husband soon gets better.

  8. “i pour oil into a bowl, smell the olives,
    fine-slice over-ripe tomatoes, juice-seas
    at my fingertips, salt//pepper
    as if life spins on///forever
    comfortably nestled in the globe’s curved chest,”

    Myself I think Luther should have planted olives.

  9. Claudia, I agree about planting that apple tree. We have to keep looking to the future even if it is difficult. And good that the friend who is going to cancer surgery is looking ahead and having her hair done. We truly MUST look ahead, cannot give up EVER. Again, I hope your DH is doing all right.

  10. No matter what gets in our way, we sure have to keep on keepin on indeed. Hopefully his wounds heal quick and that cancer goes scat in your friend.

  11. Hi again –

    I don’t offer advice much, preferring Tolkien’s “do not ask council of the Elves for they will advise you both for and against”

    But I do know that at a difficult time in my life someone mentioned a book they had read helped them with clarity. The book was “Should you leave” by Peter Kramer.

    And finally, Jan and I will be in Basel on Jul 5 and then on the 19th if you care to meet for a cup of tea.

    Best Regards – bw

  12. This is a wonderful poem. You convey a sense of something terribly immediate in all of this turmoil I will keep it and think about it. I think this one establishes you as a poet of the first rank.

  13. I read it over and over. So much in this one. The whole human condition, really. I feel your heart in your mouth!

  14. So much in this one to contemplate life is full of twist and turns but, you have a strong spirit..sending positive energy your way..nothing wrong with planting an apple tree I say…

  15. You handled the incident so inspiringly brave & tame. Very beautiful, Claudia, the poem you wrote here with a Martin Luther’s words. Always keep safe—you & family. Smiles.

  16. there is something to be said for continuing routines and keeping appointments, even when we know the result will be fruitless…much like the apple trees planted at the worlds end.

  17. This is a spectacular poem and wonderful advice. “It’s what we do” – because humans are incredibly brave. Loved this, Claudia. One of my faves of yours.

  18. I guess the lesson is that if no one plants apple trees before the end of the world there won’t be any apples to eat in the world after the end of the world.

  19. My sympathies with him. It sounds like he has a lot on his plate (if you catch my drift). If I were you, I would be thinking of melons, not apples. 🙂 I loved the poem. You inject so much life and passion into your poetry. Love it.

    Greetings from London.

  20. Oh, the fragility of life! Hope your hubby is okay (so glad he reads your poetry; very special, that). Yes, we must find our own way to plant apple trees. Insanely brave, bravely insane, bravery is necessity. Very powerful and emotional piece. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Oh, I felt this one….it’s hard to know what will happen, and as I don’t know exactly what went wrong, I know you will be fine, albeit changed for the hurt; something good will come out of this as well, I’m sure…the painting, although not for the poem, is sunshine on yellow..optimism, maybe…..