I grew up in Pennsylvania, just south of the Appalachian mountains. Our family often visited our Irish coal mining relatives in Schuylkill County. I earned an M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Wisconsin, and have remained in the Midwest ever since. I currently teach high school African and Asian Cultural Studies, and am an advisor to breakdancers and poets. I’m also involved with the Sheboygan chapter of 100,000 Poets for Change. A Pushcart Prize nominee, my poems have appeared Midwest Prairie Review, The Journal of Creative Geography, Gyroscope Review,and elsewhere. I just published a chapbook, Staring Through My Eyes, with Finishing Line Press.
Author's note: The first poem, "Harvest," I wrote using a form I've been having fun with lately, called the Golden Shovel. The last word in each line of the poem matches, word for word, a line from a selected poem.
Your world is kinder, figuring the dense, bewildering mass. The
face-down side of the bright apple.
-from Where it Led You, by Cherry Smith
Wilderness and domesticity wrestle in your
mind as an old apple tree holds the world
in a patch of neglected wood that is
just past the collapsed barbed wire fence, a kinder
boundary now, on these musky fall days, figuring
a gentle, elemental release to the
breathing soil, which cannot differentiate the dense
tangle of thirsty root from its own bewildering
claim on fallen fruit. A type of folk Mass
unfolds in this sun dappled cathedral, the
absorption of one body into another, the face
of the orb cheerful, even after the sudden drop down
to earth. We’re told Eve came from Adam’s side,
that she chose knowledge, shunned the tree of
life, as if there ever could have been real choice. O, the
delusion shattered, when you bend, grasp for the bright
fruit, half claimed already by a loam tasting of lost apple.
Conceived of like giggles
elbows and knees
a rolling jubilee of fingers-full
full lips speaking blue
fuller round than a marble
soft and firm as a nipple
-First published in Hummingbird: Magazine of the Short Poem
©2016 Sylvia Cavanaugh
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