Picking Figs

Victoria is our pubtender today. She always comes up with interesting prompts for us – prompts that stretch our writing and creativity. Our poems today are to consist of conversation. Not meaningless, Hi, I’m fine. How are you? chitchat. But conversations that tell a story, set a mood, take us someplace else than here. Mine is a childhood memory. It was brought to mind today while I was at a friend’s picking figs from her beautiful old bushes.  Please come visit us and read the poems for today.   This poem is linked to d’Verse Poetics:  http://dversepoets.com/2015/09/10/whats-that-youre-saying-dverse-meeting-the-bar/

Monday was our premier Haibun Monday feature.  If you enjoy this form or want to learn more, visit that page as well!

Picking Figs
My hand gently cupped the sun warmed fig and tugged downward.
Lifting the fig to my nose, I inhaled the sweet aroma. My grandmother’s voice came.

You want to pick the fig where the green has this rosy collar –  it will fit
in your palm, pull it down gently. See? It comes loose from the bush.
Cup it in your palms. Gently now, give a little squeeze. Soft. Not mushy.
Now, smell. Nice, isn’t it? I’ll take the top branches, Little Honey, you take
The bottom branches….Yes, just like that.
It smells like honey, Ninny. Sweet.
A light hand on my head…Just like you Little Honey.
Ninny. What’s a fig? Why?
It is a fruit that has the flower inside. I’ll cut this one open for you. See?
Ooooooo – pinky. Like a rose. I want to taste, please? Tastes like a peachy strawberry.
It crackles inside….little crackles.
Little seeds from all the little blooms that were inside. Let’s eat this one now. Isn’t that good?
It is going to rain soon so let’s get them in the baskets and inside. Figs and cream for dessert?
Oh yes!….hands work faster. Lay them gently in the basket. Don’t bruise them.
Carefully, like a tiny kitten or a puppy. Very good! You did that just right.
Fig preserves? Fig ice cream? Dried figs?
And fresh. There will be enough to go in the big yellow bowl on the kitchen table.
Ninny, can we do this again tomorrow?
We’ll do this in a few more days when more get ripe to pick.
I like picking figs with you.
The only think I like better than picking figs is picking figs with you, Little Honey.

free public domain image

free public domain image


22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mary
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 15:16:01

    What a sweet conversation! I don’t think I have ever seen figs grow, and the only thing I know about figs is that they were in the fig newton cookies my mother and dad used to like, but which I did not like. I would rather try fig preserves or fig ice cream or simply the figs and cream for dessert that you mentioned!


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 15:25:51

      They are lovely and exotic. So much better fresh than dried but other ways are good. I don’t like the fig newties either….blech. And in your hand, warmed by the sun, they feel soft and warm as a baby’s cheek.


  2. Glenn Buttkus
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 15:45:48

    Lovely & nearly complete recall you shared (perhaps with a bit of artistic li\cense). I really enjoyed this piece. I did something similar about my grandfather, Pop. Where do figs grow mostly? I never have encountered them.


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 15:53:59

      They grow in middle eastern cojntries and where there is a lot of summer warmth, like here down South. Used to be, everybody had a fig bush or two. Now every home is built just alkke with small homogenized yards. You’ll find lots of the still standing homes with grape vines, a pear or apple tree, and a fig bush or two. I did very little poetic license. We had long conversations until she became too ill to speak and died at 90. It was hard to do 24 lines because we talked for hours. She felt children should be treated as conversational equals. I clearly remember her taking her pocket knife from her pocket and cutting open that fig for me and the beautiful pink inside…just as if it were yesterday. Down here, you’ll find baskets of fresh figs for sale at farmer’s markets or roadside stands or, if one is lucky, for free at a friend’s. It is exotic to eat a fruit that is a flower.


  3. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 16:19:29

    This is so sweet. I could both see you, smell those figs. I have never picked any, but I have tasted them fresh.. so different from the dried one’s (now I like them with goat’s cheese though)… I like them described as kitten.. and how you feel them (like cloudberries)… superb writing.


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 10, 2015 @ 17:22:51

      There really is nothing like fresh figs! My grandmother and mother both taught me to be aware of the tactile and smelling of picking out fruit and vegetables. Cloud berries….oh my goodness. I have a batch of ginger and fig preserves about ready to take up and put into jars. I wish I could freeze them but they would be so different when thawed. With goat cheese is wonderful, especially if you put just a tiny bit of finally chopped candied ginger over it….


  4. Sanaa Rizvi
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 17:26:38

    That is one delightful conversation 😀
    Beautifully penned.


  5. Grace
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 18:58:35

    I have not tasted fresh figs ~ I love the conversation between you and grandmother, so natural & really captures the love and care between two people ~


  6. katiemiafrederick
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 19:19:23

    Oh God how beautiful Kanzensakura and with
    the smell of your figs.. i feel the strong hand
    that picks cotton to raise sisters and
    waitresses 12 hours a day
    to raise mother and her sisters..
    living in shotgun home
    on river way.. father
    leaves…matriarchal family
    stays strong women
    i learn
    And Yes my friend
    you prove time and
    time again.. that YOU
    i love you
    just the
    way you
    And i my friend
    am a brave
    man.. and no
    i’m not afraid
    to admit that..


  7. Victoria C. Slotto
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 20:07:45

    Ah, Toni–I hate to use this word, but it’s what it is–sweet, tender–like the special relationship many of us are blessed to remember with grandparents. I like how you used the italics to distinguish speakers–great idea.


  8. kaykuala h
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 20:26:37

    It is so much fun to be sharing such moments. They may be ordinary but when shared it gets etched in memory for a long time.



  9. el34ax7
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 21:35:01

    Your Ninny’s words were so easy, welcoming, and believable. I know you were a bit concerned with the conversation part, but it was so warm and seamless, like a stream of beauty and memory woven effortlessly, beautiful. You made me jealous and miss my own grandma.

    Now to fight the tears 😀


  10. Truedessa
    Sep 10, 2015 @ 22:28:08

    Interesting poem, I hate to admit this but it made me think of Fig Newtons and now I want one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fig tree.


  11. Sumana Roy
    Sep 11, 2015 @ 08:21:12

    I could see only sweetness and love flowing in the lines here…beautiful…


  12. lynn__
    Sep 11, 2015 @ 21:52:44

    What a wonderful conversation while picking figs with your grandmother…thanks for sharing and bringing up sweet memories (I enjoyed my first fresh figs this past February in Israel).


  13. justjoyfulness
    Sep 12, 2015 @ 01:22:41

    This was so sweet and gentle and heart-warming. I could picture the two of you in the garden, lovingly picking figs and bonding.


  14. mishunderstood
    Sep 13, 2015 @ 14:12:36

    You painted the scene so well. It is amazing how the dialogue can give away so much as you made memories interacting with your grandmother. A very sweet story to share.


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