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Apple Tree
Pat Boran


We bought it in the supermarket,
that flap-ended flexing limb of wood,
believing ourselves its liberators,
like blacked-up intruders who release
laboratory rats, setting off for home,
the thing stretched over the back seat
a tree in name alone, a patient
in the ambulance the car had become,
the city we passed through a landscape now
of concrete and steel, towers of glass
blankly watching as we blazed past.

At home we unwrapped and washed it slowly,
put it in a tub the kids packed
with compost, twigs and sympathetic magic —
a plastic soldier, some candies, small stones —
stroking the few wan leaves. Inside a week
new shoots appeared, a lifeless knot
puckered, stuck its tongue out, broke
into white flower. We laughed at our luck:
the dream of fruit, so far from Eden.

And when that first apple at last appeared
from behind a leaf — the first and last
as it transpired, like an only child —
it was as though the sun had singled out
our small back yard, that one dull tub
and sickly tree for special favour,
a starring role in the experiment of life.


From The Next Life (Dedalus Press, 2012).
Used with the author’s permission.





Pat Boran is a poet, author of fiction and nonfiction, publisher, and radio broadcaster. Born in Portlaoise, Ireland in 1963, he currently lives in Dublin where he works as an editor and broadcaster. His most recent book is Waveforms: Bull Island Haiku. Learn more about him at



Post New Comment:
Touching and gentle reflection of the value of fragile living things, and how their survival is beyond our control.
Posted 10/10/2016 01:33 PM
Wonderful poem especially the "sympathetic magic" plastic soldier. Thank you.Beth
Posted 10/10/2016 11:55 AM
Great last line; compelling.
Posted 10/10/2016 09:56 AM
Belinda Veldman:
Beautiful! Amazing in so many ways.
Posted 10/10/2016 02:20 AM

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