What has so often been a stroll
has, today, become a pilgrimage.
My old-man black church-shoes,
wide and tired
are wet with dew
but so connected to the land
like an extension cord in a puddle.
Quiet. Rubbery. Electrified.
The apple tree in the field
by my house is red and green
as if announcing an incarnation.
Each apple is perfect, the way they can be
A deer and her fawn wander
beneath its trunk
eating from a grassy apple-buffet.
Without my dog Sugar, they remain,
as I approach this sanctuary,
their wet hooves and my wet shoes
among the fallen apples.
On this strange island.
In this strange sea.
“Why are you here?” she says.
And her fawn looks up.
“I am looking for a Savior.” I respond.
“And why here, at this apple tree?”
she says, silently, like a wordless grandmother
full of wisdom, patience, a wry smile.
“I have sought Him in churches, cathedrals.
I have travelled the world to find Him.
Tried diocesan conventions, gurus, scotch,
canon-law-trials and candle-lit evensongs.
“Your myths give apple trees a bad
reputation.” She says, slowly.
A mild scolding.
And as if not listening.
“Yes” I say, feeling the water in my shoes.
“You Christians pack a lot into an apple.” she says, lowering her head as if to look at me
over imaginary glasses.
Her fawn glances at her as if
getting a joke.
“What did you find in the churches?”
she said, as she pushed up onto her hind legs
reaching for an apple on a low branch.
Her tall, curved, tan belly exposed,
front wrists flopping
the way my dog Sugar’s go when
she sleeps on her back.
“Reminders. At times. And righteous friends.”
And thought to myself
“The defense rests.”
She turned and walked away,
her fawn slowly following in the wet grasses.
I so wanted her to turn
and look at me once more.
See me, again.
I took off my shoes.
I took an apple from the tree,
And felt seen.
Absolved of nothing.
Connected to everything.
Charles LaFond is a poet, author, novelist, fundraiser and potter on Whidbey Island and published essays on domestic spirituality. The photo is that of the apple tree in his pasture.