She was picking apples when she cried out
and felt a warm fluid on her leg,
and a clenching inside. Her basket fell
and she leant back against the tree,
slowly slithering to the earth as contractions came.
Short hours later her love-sister, sensing something,
raced through the fields to the orchard,
her hair streaming, and saw the new mother,
each hand in a fist round a windfall apple
against the pain, back supported by
the good solid trunk. The new baby keened
a little, then gurgled at the earth-sweet scent
of apple trees; slept, warmed to cidrous drowsiness
by the pink and heavy gold of sunset, and the joy
of all kinds of harvest and homecoming.
Cathy Bryant is the 2012 winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Prize and a former guest blogger for the Huffington Post. Her poems and stories have been published all over the world in such magazines as Night to Dawn and Midnight Times. Cathy co-edits the annual anthology Best of Manchester Poets, and her own collection, Contains Strong Language and Scenes of a Sexual Nature was published recently. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The piece Apple Child was written after Cathy woke from a dream of it — feeling replete and joyful and smelling apples, but with a shivery edge to the experience.