from sky to seed

Apple in mouth

3lb bags of Jonathan apples were on sale at the grocery store, Price Cutters, so I bought them. I like to feed them to the farm animals. And with all the new baby calves dropping here and there, I’d like to persuade them to love me.

IMG_8847The day was cold, the light was low. Normally this weather doesn’t make me nostalgic, but I could feel myself becoming sentimental, becoming sentimental of the forward ticking of my very own life on a very ordinary day.

I think, in these photos, it somehow shows.

IMG_8853A newborn calf smells so good, so sweet and warm. The fur is thick, almost waxy. It’s not what you expect. You somehow want it to be fluffier, like a drugstore stuffed animal.

IMG_8859This little miss was so shy, but also curious. I couldn’t move quickly. I could barely raise and lower my camera without startling her off.

IMG_8876I loved everything about her, loved her wobbly legs, loved her oily, uncertain eyes, the wrinkled nose.

IMG_8865She wouldn’t take the apple from my hand but she gave a good investigation once I rolled it toward her. In the end, though, she didn’t want it. She wanted something else. Her mother, maybe.

I took the apple to the mule, who was happy.

IMG_8879I love these animals, all that simple joy. I never understood animal lovers when I was little. In my teens, someone gave us a beautiful border collie. He died at nine, while I was away at school. After I hung up the phone, I laid on the floor of my Minneapolis apartment and cried for three hours. It hurt that much. It still hurts, even after all this time. But what amazes me so much about knowing and loving more animals is the testimony of just how much love I have to give. I didn’t know that before. I never would have guessed that about myself. It’s so easy to love them.

If only it were easy to love your spouse as unconditionally. Oh, my. In new love, every pop song suits its vigor. But that wears off eventually and they start to sound idiotic and unoriginal.

I spend enough time sulking around about Jon that I forget or neglect to really appreciate what I truly love in him. Sometimes I like to look at my Facebook profile under the “view as…” option. I like to look at myself as a stranger, just to see what the surface is to others. It’s so interesting. I clicked through my timeline, and my about, and my likes, and then my profile pictures. There’s one of Jon and I taken nearly two years ago. The caption I wrote was, “O you / were the best of all my days” from the Frank O’Hara poem Animals.

I revisited that poem after taking all these photos because I was thinking that the day had turned into one of those “best of all my days” days. When love stays, good poetry never loses its punch. I loved this poem two years ago when I first read it, I loved it for Jon, and I love it still, and for the life we’ve built, for Jon, for the animals, for the animals within us both.


Have you forgotten what we were like then

when we were still first rate

and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth


it’s no use worrying about Time

but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves

and turned some sharp corners


the whole pasture looked like our meal

that we didn’t need speedometers

we could manage cocktails out of ice and water


I wouldn’t want to be faster

or greener than now if with you were with me O you

were the best of all my days


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