Dante’s Orchard: Canto I

Argument — The writer, arriving at the orchard for what was meant to be a delightful family day of apple-picking, hedge-mazing, and merriment, is hindered by parking obstacles, met by a long line at the cider-donut window, is shown the punishments of Hell in the form of mishap after mishap, and only after such trials as no man or woman should face shall she be conducted back to her apartment again.

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Midway through a brisk New England fall,
I packed my family in our Mazda 5.
We could not resist the orchard’s Siren call,

The sights, the colors! Ah! To be alive!
The scenic two hour’s drive led to the lot,
Wherein the cars did fight and squeal and strive

With eagle eyes I spied a single spot,
Then just as swiftly lost it to some dick
(And how is mid-October so damn hot?!).

At any rate, committed, we did stick
To our fall plan, we would not be deterred.
We found a spot (although it was not quick),

And made our way among the human herd
To buy our bags and fill them with our bounty,
Lest we leave the apples to the birds.

My husband, wisest man in all the county,
Said splitting up would cover distance wider.
So orchardward my family went without me,

As I lined up for donuts made with cider.
I circled round the barn to seek the line,
(The sugared treats were surely hid inside her),

The queue I found, yet boggled was my mind,
To see such hordes amassed and moving not,
Such throngs of human flesh pressed and combined.

Did I mention it was really fucking hot?
I texted my dear love, “The line is endless,”
He texted back “The trees have gone to rot.”

I went to text again about this madness,
When just that second my phone screen cut to black.
And there I stood, alone and sad and friendless,

The donut line just pressing further back.
“We have to make more dough,” the kitchen called,
I wondered, would I have a heart attack?

And there I stood, my iPhone finger itching,
Neither email nor Facebook nor Twitter could I check,
And no one there to listen to my bitching,

Just this weird hot fall wind slapping at my neck.
To my delight the line began to thin,
The time unknown, no clock for me to check,

I finally made it to the front and in,
And bought the dozen donuts that I sought,
And felt the day to finally be a win.

When suddenly before me, all distraught,
My husband and my kids fell to their knees.
“Whilst you awaited donuts that you bought

Your child has lost her iPhone in the trees!”
I tried to keep my cool, I tried to think.
“Have you called it?” I suggested somewhat pleased.

“Of course! It’s dead!” he yelled back, on the brink
of losing his mind along with my daughter’s phone.
“Well shit,” I said as my heart began to sink.

We checked through every row the orchard owned,
But the Apple among the apples could not be found.
And dusk approaching we started our way home,

The phone we left to rot upon the ground.
And silence filled the car as we drove east,
Each filled with a dejection most profound.

Not funeral dirge nor confession to a priest
Could be more somber than that two hour’s ride,
The apples knocked against them, each to each,

While in our pitted stomach sank our pride.
And neither color-changing leaves
Nor fall’s pure scent, could reach inside

Wherein our sadness hung like ice upon the eaves
For now was the winter of our discontent.
The happiness of autumn not to be retrieved,

Our joy at apple-picking having all been spent,
And each our North Face garments now in mourning rent.