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by Ann E. Michael

I am in my car, and I am eating
an apple, and at a four-way stop
I look out at a woman in a blue minivan
and she is also eating an apple,
perhaps a late Jonathan or
early winesap, the kind that sweeten crisp
so it’s almost a crime to bake them,
and there are jack-o-lanterns everywhere,
leaves brawling through the streets or
compressed against curbs.

I am driving through town just as dusk begins
and the sky’s vivid—spangled gold, clouds
riding serenely on the train’s wailing horn—
the kind of heaven Magritte painted,
or Maxfield Parrish, gaudy and unbelievable,
and sun tints even the evergreens orange
so they glitter against black tree trunks
and birches shine and shimmer, and little
stands of arbor vitae all in a row like
cabbages or soldiers decorate the fringes
of lawns during the hour of communing:

horizon, sun, the neighborly woman
in her minivan, waving me on
at the intersection. One hand on the wheel,
the other cradling the half-eaten apple,
she yields to me the right of way, and I
wave my gratitude, the apple of good intentions,
the hand of shared experience, the odd gold
that is so gaudy and so sweet.


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