by Judith Skillman

Is it lucky to find apples
lying half-soft
on the grounds of Paradise—
an apple tree,
a field unplanted?
Where is the heart of luck

if not in these late fruits
left to rot? When luck
runs out, is it replaced by illness?
The three-year old
asking why all day long
in her hoarse, Sarah Bernhardt voice—

is she happy?
Is it worthwhile to wonder
over a sudden acquisition,
as one might suspect
a green thoroughbred from the track
sold for a cent?

The fruit remains
where it falls, already
winds blows heady with autumnal
equinox, day and night equal
as the algebraic equation
no one must solve.

Pears too, reddened
as if stroked by sun,
have left their branches.
They lie over-ripe, useless
except to white insects.
Do white insects hold any purpose

other than to startle
the human soul, that peers out
from dark pupils
in a face indistinguishable
from other faces?
Is it lucky to find apples

blown from the tree?
What kind of luck
makes a man lose a job?
Is his work then
to be endless, unlocked?
Where pears and apples

meet on a blue road,
and maggots move in overnight
to feast, is that a good place
to have a house built?
Into what world
have we been driven then?

Judith Skillman is the author of twelve collections of poetry, most recently The Never (Dream Horse Press, 2010.) She is the recipient of awards from many organizations, including the Academy of American Poets. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Seneca Review, New Poets of the American West, and many other journals and anthologies. Skillman holds an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Maryland, teaches for the Richard Hugo House, and lives in Kennydale, Washington. Her book The White Cypress is forthcoming from Cervéna Barva Press in 2011. Her website is

Back to Issue Nine: Fall 2010