Walking through the orchard
On autumn days like this
I imagine I hear them crying
The unpicked apples.
Left behind, they fill with tears
Their crisp identity lost as they shrivel
Hoping to drop to the ground before
They stiffen with early frost.
That they remain uneaten
Small yet sweet
Cold flesh pained by memories of the chosen,
Their red delicious skin
Never to be touched by lips.
How they wish to be ordinary
But something went wrong
Their purpose lost.
Blemished and bruised
They lie alone waiting to pass quietly.
Black-winged-birds swarming above
Yellow-Jackets buzzing nearby
Worms inching closer
The un-picked yearn to be
Seen as windfalls
Given another chance.
Two of them remain side by side
For the finale
The rest having fled the beach.
Each one demonstrates perfect posture
The sandpiper strutting about on Balanchine-thin legs
Stopping and staring with antic charm.
The sand crab acting every bit as if
It truly believes it cannot be seen
Making allegro movements on outstretched toes
Eyestalks rotating in their sockets
Then dashing backwards
All with such nonchalance, he seems convinced
He is burrowed beneath the swash zone sand.
The sandpiper pauses
As if fooled by the charade
Head askew, chopstick beak locked tight
Then snatches the invisible crab with its fatal beak
Pausing just long enough
That both know the situation at hand
Before shaking the crab, then expanding its Sandpiper gullet
Forcing the dazed crustacean to dance
Its way down the long narrow pipe
Executing perfect plies
For the final curtain call.
John Schneider was born and raised in Wisconsin and has lived and worked for more than half of his life in Berkeley, California where he has studied poetry with Robert Hass. Recent poems have appeared in: Glassworks Magazine, fort da, Wilderness House Literary Review, Anak Sastra, Edge Literary Journal, West Trade Review, The Mayo Review, and Potomac Review.