The Apple’s Tale – Judith Montgomery

        ’Twas not the snake alone—his hiss
and glitter sweet as steam in winter,
        his sinuous flow over bark—such
limited allure.  But my beckoning—
        how could they resist?—swelling flesh
adangle from the branch, all blush
        and gleam, suffused in rich perfume . . .

I, red ripening fruit, a toy? a dream?
        sweet-tart nectar fused in flesh all
innocent summer long. . . .She looked up
        from slowly bleaching grasses, from red
dust that formed her first flesh, made her
        kin to cliff and cat and catacomb.  She
reached for me. Breathed me in. Licked

        my scarlet skin:  O rosy invitation, O
spark to counter yearn and ennui, I
        lured them both: she bit, then offered,
dimpled hand outstretched, and then he,
        secret seeds leaping fiery in his loins
to kindle her, heart and nest. . . .One
        of them (I’ll not say which) dropped me

so as to coo and kiss and camouflage
        with red-tinting leaves.  I plummeted, half-
eaten (my canny sacrifice), through crisping
         autumn air, to destiny I most desired:
earth, where my shining seeds spilled forth
        on ready loam, ripe for reproduction,
more temptation. . . .Thus: who better

        claims the crown?  Dull snake slithering
or I, apple, ruby cheeks proud blushed?
         Who made farmers out of Eve and Adam?—
sweet unwitting dupes grappling, planting,
         banished beyond Garden.  Heaven.  (Sly
fox that I am, I smuggled forth two seeds
         tangled in her hair.  I won’t say where.)

Judith MontgomeryJudith H. Montgomery’s poems appear in Prairie Schooner, Cave Wall, and Rattle, among other journals, as well as in anthologies. Her chapbook, Passion, received the 2000 Oregon Book Award for Poetry; Red Jess (2006) and Pulse & Constellation ( 2007) followed. Her second full-length collection, Litany for Wound and Bloom, will appear in 2018 from Uttered Chaos Press.