I am thinking of my dear Aunt C a great deal today. I wrote two poems about the pomegranates that grow at her house, and I’m sharing them while I ruminate on the beauty, and darkness, that we find in October, that most brilliant of months.

Pomegranate

I walk the stony path from the flagstones to the garden,
Passing the cacti and succulents, the departed wisteria hanging
Like fuzzy green caterpillars over the veranda.

There are a thousand, thousand living plants here still,
The protea. Queen Victoria’s agave.
Their little lettered placards are fewer every year and so I forget.

Then I see the pomegranate trees.
I do not know their names, but I know them each—as I do my children.
The right hand is the denser plant, with smaller, redder
fruit, nestled among the rosemary.
The left hand is the wider plant, with bigger, rounder
fruit, so often pillaged by the birds and the ants.
I visit the right most first, and reach between the
netting to grasp the ready fruit.
It departs the bush with a soft snap and I
shake free the temporary inhabitants.

When the basket is full, I return to the white kitchen and
with her sharpest knives I score them and drown them
and free the inner flesh.

All beauty lives in the whorls of the pomegranate fruit.
The supple skin, those jeweled walls,
Bursting forth with a certain bloody, impossible plumpness.

In the sunshine the pomegranate glistens, while trails
Of deep carmine trickle through my fingers into
the basin, staining the counters.

Pomegranate 2

I am at home with the pomegranate.
Her roundness. Her complexity.
When I smooth my thumb across her skin,
still warm from the autumn sun,
I sigh, reminded of passions. Of that
taste, ripe and tart and unexpected.
An indelible and ancient surprise.

I bite down on those
sourest seeds, feel the juice between my teeth
and spit.

The cookbooks all have their ways
with her. Slice here, hit there. Sever and
break and tease out the juice.

I drown her, and slice her, and twist the
seeds in a clean old tea towel,
smell the tannic clarity she expresses,
dapple my fingers and forearms with her
spray.

One sip and I see why this fruit,
so hard won, has been so treasured.
How Eve could have been tempted.
But no. Eve would have understood.

She would
have waited and teased the knowledge from
those deep, crimson seeds, and
Adam would have bitten straight in.