by Nancy Arbuthnot
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Early sun slants shadows
across grass, house, tree, utility poles

I step out to harvest the not-quite-ripe figs
before the birds—
sparrow? finch? cardinal? (I haven’t once seen one)
streak the skin with tiny sharp beaks

marks almost imperceptible
so maybe the skin has cracked itself,
the seeds in their luscious red bed
pushing out into the yellowy-green pulp?

But now mother--
my beautiful, gracious, aging, diminished mother--
holding a fig in her hand, asks
“What? What do I do with this?”

then at my urging takes the precious fruit
into her mouth then spits it out,
filling my opening palm.

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