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Apple poem

by Brooke


{painting by Carol Marine}

Things I tell myself when I eat apples

I do not believe in the necessity
of breaking teeth to eat an apple.
Only in the necessity of breaking skin.

There also cannot be one true way
to eat the apple. Or to share it.
But I’ll say it again, the skin must break
(even if the skin itself is not eaten).
But there is no need to scrape your gums on it,
or break your jaw. And if you are peeling
or slicing it, be careful with that knife.

Do you hear me? You don’t have to hurt yourself
to eat the apple. You don’t have to eat the skin
or seeds
or stem
or bruises.
you don’t even have to eat
this apple.

I’m curious, dear readers, what you think of when you read this poem. PLEASE feel free to comment. I of course was thinking about something (not necessarily coherent) when I wrote it, but I love to see the many interpretations that can come from a single piece. So, there is no right or wrong answer. Only everyone’s own reading experience. Seriously, anything that is going through your head – questions, images, thoughts, feelings. Just comment. Don’t be shy. It will help me with revision if I can get a bunch of responses. Thanks in advance!


I am a children's librarian. I have 2 kids. I have a professor for a husband. I obsess about writing and about making things.

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21 Responses

  1. Unpopular says:

    I have two apples in the fridge that should be eaten. Really, that was my thought. Also, I like apples.

    I don’t know why God is mentioned.


  2. Deborah says:

    I like this. In some ways it remind me of Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese” (which begins You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.)

    Makes me think that the apple won’t become any sweeter by inflicting unnecessary pain on yourself. It’s sweet — if it is to you liking. Eat it or no.

    Of course, mention God, apples, pain, and choices, and the mind jumps to Eve.

  3. Lisa Hadley says:

    yes, my first thought was of the garden of eden. the necessity of breaking skin reminded me of breaking free of mortality. there are a lot of ways to get there that shouldn’t involve unnecessary pain. God does not need to eat the apple because he is immortal.

  4. Nature Girl says:

    My first impression was that the apple was life, the pain or hurt of life. That if life is experienced it requires that something must change (the skin breaks) but that you won’t do it the same way anyone else does. But that you don’t have to be full of hurt to live life. Just because there is some pain doesn’t mean it’s all there is to life, or that you have to take it all upon yourself to have fully lived.

    I enjoyed the poem’s imagery, because it works in a literal sense, which is important for me in order to then create a metaphorical meaning. If the literal application is off, then I get hung up on analyzing the imperfections of the words, rather than letting my mind take the deeper meaning. (This is clearly my own character flaw, but I’m happy that you’ve written a poem that allows me to avoid facing it.)

  5. Emily U says:

    I thought about how an apple will rot faster if the skin is broken than if it’s intact.

    If I think about it a little longer, it seems like the skin of an apple could represent the veil and the flesh could represent partaking in this life.

  6. Alisa says:

    I loved reading this poem again. I like the imagery and the surface-level of the poem. Take it for what it is. “I ate the plumbs that were in the icebox, that you were probably saving for breakfast,” that kind of thing.

    But for some reason to me, it represents making choices about how to experience my religion, and what is a sustainable way for me to experience my faith. Are there parts of my religion I love? Yes. Parts that are nourishing, sweet, and familiar? Yes. I’ll take those. But please, don’t force the core, the stem, the seeds down my throat. I can’t take it all right now, and it might turn me off to apples completely.

  7. I says:

    I see Eve/Garden of Eden analogies in this poem, but also see it as a metaphor of life. When we live consciously and with mindfulness, we can eliminate needless suffering from our lives and we can also experience peace amid the trials of life.

    I really like the line that reads: “If you are peeling or slicing it, be careful with that knife.” As we experience life, we need to be kind to ourselves and others.

    To me, the statement that “God, ou don’t even have to eat this apple” reminds me that God already has drunk the bitter cup and endured the cross that we now experience. He can teach us how to eat the apple of mortality, and He can show us how to take up our cross daily as we seek to follow Him.

  8. MJK says:

    We just bought a house and I’m trying to decide if I should plant an apple tree in the back yard. Apple trees are great for climbing.

  9. Jessawhy says:

    Ok, I’ll be honest, reading the comments also helped me with what I think of this poem.

    It kind of reminded me of pregnancy and birth. The image of breaking the skin, but no bones, are like delivery and the roundness and sweetness of an apple are like a pregnant belly and a new baby.

    I really like this poem, btw.
    Great job, Brooke. I’m fascinated by poets and by the way your mind works to write poetry.

  10. Brooke says:

    I’m so grateful for all your comments! Thanks, those of you who have shared so far.

  11. Brooke says:

    Really. Thank you.

  12. Caroline says:

    Brooke, I love this!

    Like Deborah, I was immediately reminded of the Mary Oliver poem, which I love.

    To me, the apple represents spirituality. That we can have all the joy, all the sweetness, all the wonder without believing in things that also hurt us and that are bitter (of course, being me, I’m thinking of polygamy, patriarchy, etc.)

  13. D'Arcy says:

    To me it speaks of choices that people don’t even know they can make. Choices that we have that we are unaware of because we somehow get this idea that life has to be painted a certain color for it to work.

  14. Dora says:

    Fabulous way to present a well written poem!

    I got the sense that this is what Eve might tell us about how to make choices … that there are as many different paths as there are ways to peel an apple. It’s liberating.

  15. Kelly Ann says:

    I think about the teeth, the gums, and the jaw and the care that needs to be given to them before, during, and after eating the apple! (in whatever analogy)

    I also think about the fact I need to pick my apple tree.

  16. G says:

    I love I don’t have to eat the apple. if I don’t want to.
    and if I do, I don’t have to hurt myself.

  17. Jessicajw says:

    Brooke – this is a great poem. I am fascinated by it. I am interested in your interpretation.

    When I read the poem I interpreted the apple to be knowledge. The desire for knowledge and knowing the necessity for this knowledge. Just like Eve.

    In my personal experience it does hurt to desire this knowledge and bite into the apple. It hurts but it feels good at the same time. The desire is being fulfilled but it is painful to know everything that I was taught growing up and that I used to take comfort in is crumbling beneath me.

    Jessawhy’s comparison to childbirth is similar. We desire to give birth. We do have a choice to go natural or medicated. Natural you will feel pain but there are benefits to that. And Medicated eases the pain but there are still consequences in choosing this route.

    You say that it doesn’t have to hurt. How do you partake without it being painful?

  18. John Remy says:

    I see the apple as life, and this is a revelation: really, it’s natural the break the apple skin, not my teeth. I bring so much of my own pain, needlessly, into my experience of life.

    That said, how one eats apples is not something that changes easily, and I think I’ll still take some convincing and practice before I can enjoy it.

  19. christi says:

    You already know I like this…to me the poem speaks of the many different ways that are acceptable to approaching a given issue. Religion came to mind because of the fruit imagery, and the “God” reference.

  20. Jason says:

    “White apples and the taste of stone.”

  1. September 22, 2009

    […] at the Exponent 2 blog has written an original poem which contains an exploration of the Eve myth and its meaning to […]

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