Mar 18

​To the fig tree on Koloĉep Island

By Sam Aikman, 17, Richmond, VT 

When I say “fig” 
I do not mean the kind 
you get at the supermarket
in a clear plastic tub. 
I do not mean the kind
that is shriveled, and brown, 
and crackles when cleaved open
by a child with dirty nails. 

When I say “fig”
I mean the kind that dangles,
purple and glowing 
from a thicket of foliage 
above a cobbled street.

Have you ever stood 
at the edge of the Adriatic 
under the shade of a tree 
as old as a country 
and eaten the pith of a fruit 
the color of the sky at dusk?

What is this sudden urge we call longing?
When, in the late afternoon 
of a Saturday in January, 
as you loiter under the fluorescent lights 
in aisle six, you demand to have the heart 
of a past summer on your tongue. 

You buy a box despite them being old and dry,
and stand with your fingers in your mouth 
at a bus stop on the corner of Dorset,
halfway around the world from the tree
that has not likely been long lost to sun.

When you consider the heat,
and the distance, and all the time 
it takes to deliver life (first to your palm and then to your lips),
really, what is the point
of waiting a moment longer before returning
to the fig on Koloĉep Island?
Since when has fruit never been enough of a reason to leave?
[Art opposite page: By Uma Chirkova, 14, Newbury, VT – Golden Birch Winner – The Tree of Life, painted freehand using Adobe Photoshop 2021]
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