You wouldn’t have to actually be a cider man,
but might have to know one pretty well,
to really understand the physical pain
it brings to see apples rotting under a tree.
It cuts right into him, that view of waste,
when he can actually taste cider
from just the smell of the orchard
and knows by the feel of the fruit
how much juice he’d likely get
from that particular bushel.
It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate
the fine beauty and half-flavor of a table apple
and isn’t morally opposed to pulling one
fresh off a branch on the likely chance
that there’s enough color to suggest
that it will actually taste like an apple.
But he knows, in a way he can’t completely explain,
that it’s not until an apple drops on a still day,
so full of sap and sugar that even the wind could bruise it,
that it’s really ready for making cider.
A cider man knows that the bruise
is actually sweeter than the crisp white flesh,
and that it’s the blending from several trees
that makes the best cider.
But what he doesn’t understand
is why it is that everyone seems to know
that the juice fresh from the grape isn’t wine
but they think that apples turn into cider
as soon as the squeezings hit the pan.
So he’ll play along with those
who’ve never seen a week’s worth of foam
form in the neck of a plastic jug,
and have never tasted real cider in their whole life:
“No sir, nothing like fresh cider straight from the press.”
He’ll go along with it, all right,
but not without a bit of pity
for people who swear they absolutely love something
they’ve never even tasted.