Professor Emeritus Littleton Long
photo by Mario Morgado
THE OLD ORCHARD
Apples hang ripe on his trees,
and surely light that falls between branches
casting shadows of leaves
on the very green grass is almost the same
light that fell there in other years.
At least you would have trouble
telling it from whatever the sun did before,
except for memories of what came between
and also the fact that the man who tends
the trees and apples and mows the grass
has not taken the cover from the sign
that says Apples For Sale–Two Hundred Yards
because he has taken his memories and left us.
He will not climb the ladder that now lies on its side.
He will not gather bruised drops
and sell them for cider,
nor will we stand in his yard,
our bags of astrakhans and pearmains
leaning against our shins while we wait
maybe less for change than to talk when he returns,
which he won't do now or ever again.
And sometime in late fall
when puddles near the porch have remained
frozen all day, when the moon itself seems iced
with a cold and indifferent blue of distance
we will pause walking home and hear the earth
beating a dull, random thump and thud
for each falling apple–rhythm of time-keeping
more like memory than time–
falling to the place where they will slowly
merge with soil, with roots
of the bent and propped and dying trees.
T. Alan Broughton
Reprinted with permission from A World Remembered, by T. Alan Broughton, published by Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2010. Broughton, professor emeritus of English, wrote "The Old Orchard" in memory of Professor Emeritus Littleton Long, a member of the UVM English faculty from 1949 to 1985, who passed away in 2003.