The Take

The Take: Margot Wizansky

Ode to Cidering 
From trees unpicked, un-lovely, un-named fruit
fallen in October’s bluster, not Winesap,
not Northern Spy, but yellow-skinned,
blemish more than flesh. Flung on the tarp.
Everything sticky. Gathered into buckets,
even the wasps. Fruit, worms and all,

decanted into the wooden press that takes
the strength of two to work—you smash
the tubful with a wooden club. I lean hard

on the grinder lid and you turn the grinding wheel.
The pieces tumble into a loose-staved barrel
lined with cloth and you screw down

the pressing plate tight, tighter, and from
that mash and the pommace after,
comes the pour of pure amber

we drink straight away. And here’s to
the aging of it, the bottling,
the hardening, the warmth it gives.

Poet’s statement:

Thank you so much for accepting “Ode to Cidering.” I had never before been this close to the cidering operation—close enough to gather drops from trees so old their varietals were indistinguishable, close enough to see the bugs that would be crushed with the apples, close enough to smell the pour of the cider, and to drink it fresh from the press. It was magic.


Statement on The Take:

What a remarkable picture Wizansky’s poem paints—deliciously rich and heady in its diction and imagery, much like the satisfying “pour of pure amber” itself. Celebratory of autumn, the poet’s romantic description of the messy “worms and all” cidering process pleases the senses through a sweet and sticky, single-stanza ode, providing an abundant bevy of warmth.

Jonah Meyer, Poetry Editor

By Margot Wizansky

Margot Wizansky’s manuscript, The Yellow Sweater, was published by Kelsay Press in 2023. Wild for Life, her chapbook, a memoir in poetry of her near-death experience from a split aorta, was published by Lily Poetry Review, 2021. Her poems appear in many journals such as New Ohio Review, Spillway, Cimarron, Missouri Review, and the Bellevue Literary Review. She edited Mercy of Tides, Rough Places Plain, and What the Poem Knows, Tribute to Barbara Helfgott Hyett. Carlow University awarded her a residency at the Isle of Innisfree, Ireland, and Writers@Work, a fellowship in Salt Lake City. She transcribed the oral history of her friend, Emerson Stamps, whose grandparents were enslaved and his parents, sharecroppers. Missouri Review, 2018, featured her poems about him.