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Illustration by Stacy Reece
Illustration by Stacy Reece

Three Poems by Gary Grossman

A Georgia poet moves furiously up and down our hills, into our winter winds and through the baskets of various apples laid out at picking time.

Paying Attention on the Baldwin Grade

Passing the big Ingles market I speed through the last intersection in Baldwin, Georgia, and crest the ridge holding up the south end of town, only to find the undulating Piedmont hills laid out before me — visibility at least twenty-seven miles — odd for July, with its shower-curtain humidity, even though white and red oaks do their best sets of push-ups provisioning oxygen, while loblolly and shortleaf pines comp us with chasers of pinene, the real deal, not that fake Christmas tree hanging from your rear-view mirror, and I am gobsmacked by the immensity and continuity of this robust green landscape, distant from the ocean, yet looking like nothing so much as a horizon-long set of large rollers from a mid-Atlantic storm, so many waves of yellow-green, green-green and blue-green, colors ebbing and flooding with the breeze, like some window shade that you pull down but keeps rolling itself up, and I should really pull over and suck it all in like a long toke on a joint — let this immensity fill my lungs and seep into iron-red arterial blood for a lap or two around my body, but this is where the eight-mile stretch of forty-five ends and we’re back up to sixty-five within two-thirds the length of the local high school football field — my wife and daughters are accustomed to my speeding, not too fast mind you, just the six or seven mph of lagniappe the troopers give you, and Georgia 441 takes speed so well, as long as you slow up on the unbanked esses just north of Homer where you have to drop to sixty if there’s traffic, but when no one’s on your right, you can slalom across the lanes, drifting like Mario Andretti at the Grand Prix of Monaco — windows down and chestnut hair flapping — and that dendroid diorama of big mid-oceanic waves stays with me, all the way to Athens as I inhale the citrus flavor of new sourwood flowers, and drop down to sixty-two at the Clarke County speed limit sign — while my neurons write this second, this minute, this hour, in my every grinning cell.

Bomb Cyclone in Athens

The wind slapped me like Crazy Aunt Blossom
did when she lost it — nieces, nephews, even
adult relations scared shitless of her, so everyone
just stood around, whistling and regarding
something else, which proves history does
repeat itself — air, my silent witness
while the wind has its way with my cheeks
and nose, both desiccated scarlet — although
a half-mile remains in my jog — thoughts
speculating on whether someone will
find me in fetal position on Springdale,
like an Incan mummy from some stratospheric
Andean cave, nothing left but shoe-leather skin,
heart, liver and lungs, which reminds me of the
effort needed to really live — pump primed every
day with taste, touch and scent — piney candles —
warm showers reverting us to the sea
of the unborn, handmade pasta, and Brunello,
but the temperature is now 18 Fahrenheit,
sans that showoff, Mr. Wind Chill, and I hang
a left on Woodlawn Avenue, abandoning
this endorphin fantasy of jogging
during a Bomb Cyclone, and head for home
as my nose starts running faster than my feet

Quartering an Apple

What does it mean to slice up fruit,
to disassemble an organic
universe into parts, dismemberment
not from anger or spite, but merely
for ease of consumption, those four
slices set skin down like unfooted
salad bowls, wobbling slightly back
and forth, as I pick up the plate.
You can, sorry, you may, quarter any
apple with the same result. Winesap,
Delicious, Macintosh, even the new,
sweet as a spring sunrise Lemonade
apples I bought at the rusty nail-
stained fruit stand, on the four-lane,
South Carolina Route 25, between
Greenville and Asheville.

Didn’t Isaac plead with Abraham, “But
isn’t the whole more than the separated
parts?” And if he was sacrificed,
would our people have been the first
quarter removed from the G-dhead? Which
circles back to the planetary
shape of apples and Eve’s desire for
that first taste, and my odd curiosity
regarding which type of apple she
chose? Do religions agree to
disagree about this? Did she choose
Catholic-sweet like the Lemonade, or
Wiccan-tart like a Fuji? Jewish-
long-lasting like an Arkansas Black,
or Puritan-bitter like the thick skin of
a Granny Smith?

What would physics say about all of this?

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About the author

Author Profile

Gary Grossman is a professor emeritus of ecology at the University of Georgia and lives in Athens. His poems, short fiction and essays in have appeared in forty-seven literary reviews. His work has been nominated for inclusion in The Best Small Fictions and for the Pushcart Prize for 2023. For ten years, Gary wrote “Ask Dr. Trout” for American Angler Magazine. He is a lover of people, nature, productive gardens, fishing, and the ukulele. He has published two books of poetry: What I Meant to Say Was… (Impspired Press) and Lyrical Years (Kelsay). In 2023, he released a graphic memoir, My Life in Fish—One Scientist’s Journey(Impspired).

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