Greg McBride

After Memo Writing

Like the apple picker crumpled
on his cot sleep-counting russets
by the thousand falling round
his head, falling, tree to bucket rim,
then rumbling to the cellar bin,
my sleep is troubled by memoranda
spilling from fluorescent years,
their half-remembered lines
from not so long ago, as I
consider my career, when I
had a thing or two to say
that seemed to matter, prose that lay
in laser-scribed perfection
on the page, words as bound to one
another as the ladder rounds
that rose together, one then one,
toward the clarity found in late
autumnal sky. It was the art
of memoranda, persuasive
as the fecund apple tree, one hoped,
though sometimes tossed aside as little
more than litter, like bruised russets
to the apple-cider heap;
and then, especially, when wanting
only sleep, I’d feel the tendons
of my writing wrist worn sore,
the way the picker’s instep arch
would ache. It’s late, and yet, I cannot
help but marvel that it was the prose
that bought this kitchen table,
this paring knife, this place, in which
I slice an apple fallen from
the apple picker’s sleep, and sleepless,
taste the loss of memo-writing time.

Greg McBride's collection of poems, Porthole, won the 2012 Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry. His work appears in Boulevard, Gettysburg Review, River Styx, Salmagundi, and Southern Poetry Review. His awards include the Boulevard Emerging Poet prize and an individual artist grant in poetry from the Maryland State Arts Council. He edits The Innisfree Poetry Journal. His government service began with four years in the US Army, including a year as a photographer during the war in Vietnam. After a few years of private practice, he practiced law with federal agencies, including 27 years at the Department of Transportation. To read more by this author: Greg McBride: DC Places Issue Greg McBride: Audio Issue