The Lineage of Apple Trees

The poem imagines the last member of a family who have grown apples for generations in Kent. Economic considerations have led to the destruction of the orchard.


The weather is benign in early October.

On the orchard floor are the apples

economics left to rot,

red striated with yellow,

bruised or gnawed hollow

or beak-pocked. One sound fruit

you can pick from the branch,

yielding to your palm,

an offering from the tree

as if it bribes you to be kind.


Your family that owned this land

go back more than two millennia;

they marched with the legions,

and, inter-marrying, settled here.

A medieval prioress, whose sisterhood

was drunk on cider;

a Georgian general who helped to lose America

but gave his name to this variety;

a Victorian canning magnate and his sister   

the lady explorer in skirts on a camel,


who, so they say, planted an espalier among the palms; 

an admiral who fed his men on crates of eaters

until his ship split off the Azores.

Do Bedouin camp

beneath the blossom in the Sahara spring?

Did a fleet of migrant apples

bob to the tune of the Atlantic Ocean?

You bite through the peel and reach the core,

pocketing the pips before you turn.

The last of the line. Your hand signals the digger in.