Young Girl Peeling Apples
(Nicolaes Maes)

It's all
ppppp an elaborate pun:
the red peel of ribbon
ppppp twisted tightly around the bun
ppp at the crown of her apple-

ppppppp round head;
pppp the ribbon coming loose in the real
apple-peel she allows to dangle
pppp from her lifted hand; the table
pppp on which a basket of red

ppppppp apples
pppp waits to be turned into more
white-fleshed apples in a water-
pppp filled pail on the floor;
ppp her apron that fills and falls

ppppppp empty,
ppppp a lapful of apples piling on
like the apron itself, the napkin,
ppppp the hems of her skirts--each a skin
ppp layered over her heart, just as he

ppppppp who has
ppppp painted her at her knife
paints the brush that puts life
ppppp in her, apple of his eye: if
ppp there's anything on earth but this

ppppppppp unbroken
ppppp concentration, this spiral
of making while unmaking while
ppppp the world goes round, neither the girl
ppp nor he has yet looked up, or spoken.

From SUNDAY SKATERS (Alfred A. Knopf, 1994)


Poems by Mary Jo Salter


The Twelfth Year

Young Girl Peeling Apples
(Nicolaes Maes)