I bought a pound of Arkansas Black

back in November—impossibly

hard, a little bitter, tart as tart apples can be,

the indentation leading to the stem

shallow, as if the apple had strained

away from the branch or the tree

itself had held the fruit at arm's length.

And then that paper bag browning,

rough on the tongue and reminiscent of scars.

Otherwise it's the darkest of them—dramatic like doomsday

from brown red brick to wine dreg maroon,

freckles that almost look cute. Funny,

the market man tried to warn me, said some of the above.

Said he wasn't sure they'd be my thing.

And it's true, I don't generally like apples. Too sweet

or common or prone to softness.

But the Arkansas Black—I hear it stores

impeccably. Midwinter and I keep

coming back to it. Something

nutty and improbable in the skin,

how unyielding it is. How challenging.

It warms my heart, makes me feel

like a better person

to hunker down with such

complex company.