Sweet Decay: A Basket of Fruit
BY LUCY CATLETT
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.