An A-Z of fruit: A for Apricots

by Marilyn Francis
The Write Idea
Third Place, January 2013
Judged by Deborah Bogen

It was Monday and the grandmother was buying apricots
from the stall in Church Street market. She squeezed the fruits
between her thumb and first finger, testing for ripeness,
feeling the whiskery skins brush the flesh of her hand.
She chose three fruits to be wrapped.

Later, the child opened the wrapping,
unveiled the unfamiliar fruit,
and refused to eat.

She smoothed out the paper,
saw a map traced in brown ink,
fingered its contours and pathways,
but couldn’t figure a way through the
wastes of marshland, and the land where
there be dragons.

The grandmother ran a blade around the fruit,
tore the halves apart.
The child still refused to eat.

She took the three discarded stones
wrapped them in the crumpled map
buried them in a secret place.

"An A-Z of fruit: A for Apricots" creates a small but marvelous world, at once storybook like and strange. There is a clear sense of ritual and an ambiguous sense of identity – who are these people — gypsies or the boring neighbors in the next apartment? If the child is a girl the ambiguity is increased. Is the “she” in this poem the child, or could it be the grandmother? Finally, the poem’s sound effects are great – e.g., “whiskery skins brush the flesh.” --Deborah Bogen

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