There is perhaps an air of late fifties and early sixties' nostalgia about this poem, as if it had come straight out of that era, and perhaps it did, in a way, with echoes of other famous poems about horses written about that time. It has an unusually gentle and domestic feel to it, which is rather out of step with many of the poems I've written over the past ten years.
Maybe I'm mellowing at last ...
Anyway, 'Apples" will be published soon enough in my new poetry collection, BOUDICCA & CO., due out from Salt in a few months' time - which basically means I can't submit it to a magazine now, with book publication so close at hand. So I'm posting the poem up here on my blog instead, with this photograph of last year's apples in my own back garden to accompany it.
ApplesThe horses come here for apples twice a day,
nudging the fence and rubbing themselves
against trees, trampling earth
with their hunters’ hooves while they wait.
At first we fed them with palms held flat,
away from the substantial teeth and those warm
brownish lips lifting up to reveal them.
But one always dropped his apple
into white-flowered nettles under the fence
and the other would stoop
to retrieve it, thick sinewy neck supple
as a giraffe’s. So now we roll them into the field
or throw them, over-arm, so they bounce
and split soft apple everywhere.
Some days the children are outside playing
and I lift them up, let the baby
grab at a sleek nose with her clumsy fingers
while the boys stare, mesmerised
by the moist brown eyes and those lashes -
like false ones! - seductively curling.
The gentler one comes on his own sometimes,
whinnying and snuffling at the fence.
He turns a wide circle under the horse-chestnut
before moving on, apples
just out of reach and no one in the garden.