Ferment by Lucy Alford



Orchard in February.
Branches, matted as hair, litter the rows after pruning.
Soil, strewn with old fruitfall,
soaks in last season’s rancid sun
seeped from these gnawed globes:
Ambrosias, Auroras, Pink Ladies,
now rusted and fleshless.
Their skins peel back
like those of fallen tomatoes in August,
                   left to blister and stink.

Small black birds sit motionless
against blank and separate sky,
below which, earth
in hibernatory ferment concocts
from sweetest Melus
this bitter brandy
for weathering out.
One wavers a bit in its frieze.

Even for them,
            a little ivresse eases the dark months:

Kneel low,
            and suck the cold soil dry.

Lucy Alford
Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, Lucy Alford teaches and writes on poetry and poetics at the University of Chicago. Her first scholarly book, Forms of Poetic Attention, is forthcoming with Columbia University Press. Her poems have been published in Harpur Palate, The Warwick Review, and, in Italian translation, Atelier.

Featured image: Pruned by Giles Turnbull. CC license.

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