Back to Issue Twenty-Nine.

Sweet Decay: A Basket of Fruit

Finalist for the 2019 Adroit Prize for Poetry

        "A Basket of Fruit," Michel Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1596

What slats of light had fell so dangerously
        across your pillows, just hours ago, had by then receded.
                You in the kitchen were vibrant as any new hour —

decorated that morning by motes of dust
        that spun orbitally as you took your coffee
                from the counter top, a few fatigued gulps,

the knife in your hand reduced to a flash
        as you worked an apple to pieces. Outside,
                our rain-fat summer took a drunken green,

done up as if for one last pageant before the perishing.
        No better did we know, then, what was perhaps foreseen
                or could be foreseen by the fruit, sun-drenched in its bowl

and blackening; no less plucky, undiminished,
        were we than the Smith apples that shone, guileless
                in the soft of our cratered plums, nightshades

suffused by bruise, bug holes, the sweet rank of decay
        —not a whiff. Greener, even, than the greed sunk low
                and waiting to grip you were we that summer

in the apple orchard, young and hungry,
        life stilled in our hands and sentenced by the picking.

Originally from Middleburg, Virginia, Lucy Catlett is a 2019 graduate of the Poetry Program at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she is currently pursuing a dual degree in Art History. Her essays and poetry have been published in magazines such as the Foundationalist, Arcade Echoes and Virginia Literary Review, and in 2019 she was the recipient of the Hannah Kahn Poetry Prize. She spends much of her free time in the outdoors as a raft guide and backpacking trip leader in the off-season.


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