Skip to main content

Noughts and Crosses


And once again it's Apple Time. We gather apples and crush them into juice. But I peel a few carefully to make slices for a pie, which reminds me of childhood. I'm still intrigued by those long uncertain skin snakes appearing as the apple is rotated against the blade...

Noughts and Crosses


She peels them with her usual skill

against her thumb. The apple turns.

In the bucket windfalls wait

which we gathered where they fell.

I watch the freed peel fall away

still tethered – for how long

I wonder.  Gravity is light.

I hear another apple fall.

You can tell the future

she says quietly to herself

although I do not want to know.

I select a strip of skin

bend it round into an O

in which the future might be held.


I peel them with my usual skill

against my thumb. The apple turns.

The years have passed. As they grow old

apples fall into the grass.

Time itself descends, is pulled

by gravity, no longer light.

This time I pick two strips of skin

and drop them on the floor.

You can tell the future

I say quietly to myself.

But now there’s no one else to hear

or to see the cross I’ve made

while I am peeling apples here

feeling the weight of what was said.

It's fairly predictable that I can't help thinking about gravity when dealing with apples, but they seem to have a relationship with time as well. As I mentioned, childhood memories bob up with the peeling of those strips of skin. Time being thus compressed, I'm reminded of me as a child watching an unexpected and rather impressive action – almost that of a conjuror.

And now, here I am, performing that very same trick, just as she used to – perhaps even is, it feels like, as I watch my hands.

So in an attempt to reflect the fact that apples can influence time, I find myself using the present tense, as I recreate my own childhood memory of this – which for me now is automatic – action.

In an interesting way then apples have progressed beyond the Master of Gravity Newton, to Einstein, who involved Time in the equation. The old superstition I hear her reminding herself of – that letters can be formed, enabling the future to be foretold – blends into my crushed juice.

Of course, under that peeled skin, deep in the core, the apple holds the future.

I hope that all this about being reminded of the power of gravity and Old Wives' Tales, and musings on the mesmerising of a child by a simple skill, along with the circularity and immediacy of Time isn't all a bit too, well, heavy.

As far as the future's concerned right now, I'm just looking forward to sipping the juice we've crushed, enjoying those skinned slices in an apple pie later on, or simply crunching through the skin of a freshly fallen apple.


My good friend Val Organ has just sent me a photo of a painting by her husband Bob, titled 'Peeled', which  was exhibited in 2000.  He used this idea in many a still life, and Val reminded me of its frequent appearance in seventeenth century Dutch paintings, adding that the peeling(s) may well have represented various aspects of life...

                                                            'Peeled' by Robert Organ 1999


  1. Mark Haworth-Booth5 October 2023 at 13:33

    Very elegant and timely - thank you!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Three Hares

  The Three Hares We continue on our way running, running, running around held together tip to tip so I can hear what she can hear as well as her. And the other follows me in front of her – we are joined up by our ears so we follow, lead and follow running, running, running around we continue on our way. Running, running, running around – no cause for worry – what's to come has already been. The future's past – watch us here – we're going nowhere – the last is first and first is last. Our present moment sees us still although we seem to race – running, running, running around we continue. On our way running, running, running around hearing your persistent questions – why do you keep on asking? We cannot tell you any more. May you share your senses and find soft silence at your centre which is so close, while you go on running, running, running around. The turning of the year, with the various thoughts about the past and the future that c


I love the word Aftermath, with its apparent Anglo-Saxon simplicity. I read that it means after the mowing, perhaps a second or later mowing; more specifically, it can refer to the crop of grass which springs up after the mowing earlier in the summer. Even if the quality of the grass be criticised as not having the fragrance or sweetness of the first crop, or worse, dismissed as 'the bloomless aftermath', it is after all new growth – a reminder of what has been, and of what is yet to come. Aftermath Yes, the grass will grow again. There will be another season here upon these same old fields where sheep shall safely graze again as if it were the first occasion.   Fresh growth of flimsy blades will spring to feed a new-born generation here once more, in time, expected along with others, all those others drawn forth to prosper in the sun.   And some who left will come again remembering this place. A pair of swallows from the past will score the sky above the

Happy Christmas!

Christmas – or if you prefer, Solstice, Hanukkah, or just This Special Time… Stop now.  For a moment, wait. And look.  From here you can see far. In this direction, where we’ve been – the climb, the ups and downs. Now turn around. There before you lies the future.  At the summit of the year there’s time to rest, and be refreshed – let’s gather here, so we may share each other’s company, look forward to the new arrivals, lives to come travelling into this misty landscape, and in our brightness bring to mind those no longer in our group. So drop your rucksack, get your breath back the old year lies behind – for now let’s all enjoy the present gift-wrapped here before us. I’m quite sure this little poem has no great literary, let alone poetic merit, but hey we don’t always have to be polished, clever, neat or profound. Or original. Or elegant. Especially not when you’ve just got to the top of a mountain. But there is a def