Small Kindness, This
someone on their way to work,
perhaps some bicyclist,
the time to remove the cat,
a car in the night, from the roadway,
it in the ditch among wild violets
more tires, feasting crows
other agents of decay
begin their work on the carcass;
small kindness, this,
foster a measure of dignity
these times of anonymous death,
apple tree in the back yard,
heavy with Harrel Reds,
need to prop up its limbs
two by fours, one by sixes,
length of old rain gutter,
broken step ladder, shepherd’s hooks,
whatever we can find
keep the apple’s weight from breaking branches.
the branches droop lower every day.
lighten their load, we pick some apples before they’re ripe,
them in a pile on the ground,
sacrificial offering to rabbits and raccoons,
deer, in the hope they will leave some fruit to mature.
this, and still the serpent is not appeased;
picks the finest apple from the tree,
it to my wife,
in turn, offers it to me.
has a look in her eyes I can’t resist,
be damned. I want what she proffers
there is no end to the grief it will cause me
now, I’ve been told,
future apples must be earned by the sweat of my brow.
Larry Schug lives near a large tamarack bog
in central Minnesota. He’s a poet, and he hates bios that are
lists of publication credits.