Crabapple jelly

Gathering crabapples like we do,
shaking the tree and letting what fall will

waken something in the wood
that watches and takes when the need is shown:

bruised knees of boys climbing the boughs,
girls’ full aprons gathering in

scattered fruit for baskets 
home to make the pippins ready to cook.

Now it is all for show, to learn
that we are not bagged and trucked to shops,

that stores are kept by men not banks,
jars are capped by hand, signed with a pen

not the proposition of a brand,
something true, a jelly of the land.

Considering all that needs to be done, the least
must be crabapple jelly: the sour fruit

and sugar boiled and dripped overnight,
a sprig of sorrell in the pan suggesting

lemon juice. What’s the use, you ask?
Until the eve of Imbolc when you pop

the lid and feel the summer sun warm
in the golden glow and sweetness on your tongue

and once again believe the flame might live
forever, that Bridget’s art might fire the hearth

another year to make us tools and hands
to stir the pan preserving what is good

and flavouring our food with what we need.

George Roberts