Matt Prater

Planting Apples At The End Of The World & Labradorite

Matt Prater

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Planting Apples At The End Of The World

The sky is plum-dark, full of rich ephemera.

Every fleck of ash spins like an orange moon

on seawater, rising above whatever this is we are.

So what if we were wrong about the darkness?

Knowing that even if this storm should take

the whole bridge out and seven second cousins;

if it thrashes the highway guardrails; if this ends

the mayor’s chances for a second term;

it will still smell green in the afterheat,

green with rich bits of plum, and the Lord

will give us the only answer he ever gives

concerning such sweet smelling storms:

in the mucky afterbirth of these things,

spotted doe amble through muddy fields,

nibbling loosened apples. The wet organs

of tipsy neighbors unrepentably weld.

She has lost her mother less than a year ago,

and now she is lost in animal oblivion. There is

no separation between them, and she spreads

her wet thighs wider and wider and wider.


Observing and turning the sacred stone,

winedark as the sea was before the word blue

was found and named and pigeonholed the sky,

I remember nights along the southern Chesapeake,

observing the moon coming over the freshwater sea;

palms at twilight, Horry County; an old man

coming back from turkey hunting, November,

Clinchburg. In all of these were tears of forests,

liminal, holy, calling us always to mourn:

a darkness that saves us from darkness

as the venom that saves us from others. A dog

and its whine lingers in the cricket-hot night;

its rage is effervescent, spume of the sea.

Its mourning is the scent that lingers

as the scent of salt, which sustains us.

Our losses are a declaration of dependance

we are willing to sign only at the end of dreams,

where our fix on the unfixed stars shakes away again,

and we wake to this world where we forget

our own abundance. Only concentration makes

stones or nouns, or the ambient world, precious.

I must go out alone now, as an animal does,

to die; or to shed, as a snake sheds, what has

already died. My life which has grown unclear

must grow uncomfortable before I can rise

to the energy spilled out from Machu Pichu.

Lord, as you have given us, give us also divestment.

The apocolypse may yet surprise us with its mercy.

Matt Prater

Currently an MFA candidate in poetry at Virginia Tech, Matt Prater's work has appeared in A New Ulster, Crannog, The Honest Ulsterman, The Moth, The Curlew, and Cordite Poetry Review, among other publications. He lives in Saltville, VA (US). 

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