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Thinning Apples at Ludag

Gone untrimmed, when the yield came down
perhaps I’d think that I was rich—
buckets and basins running over.
But all would be small: small blushed skin

small stiff core—maybe of no use
unless for pickling or stewing
or practising to split them open,
like a clasped book, with just my hands.

Twenty good apples on each good branch;
the pruning shears worked in the leaves
answering no and no again
until they cut away to a handful,

all green, and clinging to their stems;
the wind broke through the tree—and maybe
I left it barer than I should
but this was where the thinning led:

there could have been a greater haul,
and yes, I’m sorry how it sounds
but I wanted something different.
And so this is what I did.

Niall Campbell

The Manchester Review

Issue 17 - 2017

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