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First Love

When Ethan appeared after school
to help Angelina with chores
even the little ones knew
from their stiff silent dance

something was up just not what
though they could see
clear from the henhouse
he wasn't helping with theirs

and after that first teasing chant
shushed by their mother they
noticed their sister was given
a job away off in the orchard

where through that fall
planting the ladder with
the greatest possible care
he'd help her clean every tree

they'd take turns catching
the apples the other would toss
down then sort in four baskets
for market eating pie and cider

precise as any grownups
finally gather windfalls for the pigs
where sleepy yellow jackets still abuzz
in their moldy frostbitten cores

would draw her small O of surprise
that he would mirror steadying
her on tiptoe long and lean
kerchief round her flowing hair

contained reaching out overhead
where he dreamt of catching her falling
kept his eyes up his feet planted
as she with eyes averted would bestow

on him from her apron pocket
the best ripest one from each tree
perfect for his dark walk home
for his personal eating

Paul Hunter

Stubble Field
Silverfish Review Press

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