Apple Da is pencil thin
in a black apron. His eyes
walk out in leaf along the branch,
then disappear into the tilt of sky.
Blank blue races overhead.
Da strides across the meadow
flashing in shadow hyacinth.
His orchard is idle with nausea,
his bottles empty of scrumpy,
his bruised apples hanging brown.
Da culls Mam with a stick,
a heavy bowed dance.
Soon he’ll be smashing her head
until she pools into darkened ferments,
seeds rolling in her mouth.
Perching down on his knees, Da might
roll Mam to the baskets if she is ripe
and rich and green, but not too soft for him.
Satisfaction might break in his face
like the definition of joy.
* * *
Asleep on Mam’s floor
Lee dreams this like a calf
lulled and loaded with pain.
When he wakes he is hot
and his breath tastes like fruit.
Mam’s face sitting on her chair
is an empty apple, skin pocked
with turn, the years moving
inside of her. Da harvests Mam and
puts her away in the kitchen.
Natalie Crick is a creative writing research student at Newcastle University and poetry editor for Fragmented Voices. Her poetry is published in The Poetry Review, Banshee, SAND, Agenda, Poetry Salzburg Review, New Welsh Review, The Moth and elsewhere. She won second prize in the Newcastle Poetry Competition 2020. Her poetry received an honourable mention in the Poetry London Prize 2020 and was commended in the Verve Poetry Festival Competition 2020, amongst other awards. This year her poem ‘Sisters’ was shortlisted in the Wales Poetry Award (pending prize-giving) and she received a nomination for The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.
‘Apple Da’ was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (January 2021) judged by Oz Hardwick.