about the author

For twenty-five years Leslie Ullman was a professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Texas—El Paso, where she established and directed the Bilingual MFA Program. Now Professor Emerita at UTEP, she continues to teach in the low-residency MFA Program at Vermont College of the Fine Arts, where she has taught since 1981. She also performs freelance manuscript consultations and works as a certified ski instructor at Taos Ski Valley in northern New Mexico. She is the author of three collections: Natural Histories (Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, Yale University Press 1979), Dreams by No One’s Daughter (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987), and Slow Work Through Sand (Iowa Poetry Prize, University of Iowa Press, 1998). Her work has been published in Arts & Letters, New Letters, The New Yorker, Poet Lore, Poetry Magazine, Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, and several other journals.

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Ice Apples

Leslie Ullman

The aspen, once lit from inside,
stripped of their startled gold,
fallen glints of geranium
tamped to mulch and snowfall,
the late-ripened apples locked in ice—
these arctic nights, we are thrown back
on ourselves by what has been
taken away. It seems always

to be night. We find ourselves dozing
in a cave of sofa and muted TV sounds,
a book left open on the armrest
and another on a vacant cushion, the room
not so much warm as a neutral zone
amid a chill that advances like a phalanx
bent on more than plunder. The cessation
of consciousness. We drift in and out

of memory that is less event
than atmosphere—the alertness,
a pastel wash with bold strokes
of umber, when love first arrives
and the greater alertness—burnished
gold behind the eyes, dark grooves
celebrating the texture—when it leaves
yet again, innocence and experience

etching those repetitions that keep us
from becoming, even briefly, truly fallow,
as the pull of what could be coming next
keeps undoing the seams between
gray spirit and gravity. In this, our
hibernation is uniquely human.
Few would call it a journey. Few
would say that, at such times, we

are accompanied, losing a self
in inner rooms that keep expanding
as another, then another, self fills them—
think of Magritte’s huge apple
disembodied, all flesh, seeds and light
played out in paint, touching every
wall in an ordinary room as though it had
flowed in like the sun.

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