A POEM BY CATHARINE LUCAS
A TYRANNY OF BOUNTY
Don’t watch for persimmons:
too many little green knobs
dropped while the tree was thinning.
But today a low branch has crashed with its load.
I brace another limb that groans in the night.
Fat green, flushed with incipient orange,
swelling in cozy clusters under leaves like floppy hats.
True orange flickers through green canopy like teasing fire:
Queen of the Persimmon tree, I embrace the Bounty—
friends and neighbors, invited, bring modest paper sacks,
return with dishpans, apple crates. I start deliveries:
a dozen each to doctor, dentist, four apiece to hairdresser, masseuse.
Waking from the delirium of gifting, I choose a few
for myself—arrange bowls, trays around the house.
I turn the gleaming orbs to hide black scars
from birds’ premature strikes, testing fruit
still hard and bitter. Now tender, weighty,
deep-hued, translucent water balloons,
some burst and ooze. I spoon pulp
into steaming red yams, where it
sweetens beyond sweetness.
Every day another few come ripe.
I rush at all I can reach;
a young friend persists up ladders for the
three orbs, still clinging. He won’t keep
any for himself. “I don’t like the soft ones,”
he says, “Just wanted to get them all down.”
Superfluity mocks me: no more space
to spread them out to ripen, no one begging
for another few. What part of me is so afraid
it would be wasteful.
To leave some for the birds?
It’s still August when I freeze
the indoor crop that’s breeding fruit flies in the kitchen.
Weary of glut, I set a few back outside for the raccoons,
deliver a tray-full to the compost. Dog in the manger,
I stand in my garden and apologize to the birds and
critters who might have enjoyed a crop less hastily
disbursed. I wonder at the thing in me
that is glad the harvest is over,
the stickiness rinsed away. Was this my goal?
Just to say:
all finished up.
Retired from teaching writing and writing teachers, CATHARINE LUCAS embraces a writer’s life, sustained by Zen practice, medieval singing, and a Berkeley garden that mirrors life’s impermanence. Her poems appear in Reunion; Women in the Arts Quarterly; Zone 3; The Alembic among many others. A long-time Quaker, her non-fiction essay on a lesbian marriage in Berkeley Friends Meeting was recently selected as a Finalist in the 41st New Millenium Writings Literary Awards. Her short story, “Prize Day” appeared in The Persimmon Tree, www.persimmontree.org, Summer, 2015. See other published work at www.catharinelucas.com