A day or so, from decadence to decay,
that’s all. Things fall
where they may,
excruciating green wait, all
at once having given way
to a fleshly exuberance, a grandiose
of luscious aromatics–you could die
of the sheer headiness
of it and say
apart from a generalized unreadiness
that you suppose
there are worse ways to go, And oh,
not deal with it like this?
Nothing held back. The limbs
bent double by
their own prodigiousness
while the air swims
around them, wasp-drone, heat-hum, root
snaking, the fingered leaf in indolent
abeyance, as if spent.
gravity wins this one, so
why not just kiss
the ground, and not just in reverence but
lasciviously, with bruises darkening
your skin from all the heat of it, and no
boundaries any longer–yes,
dissolved, entirely subsumed, possessed,
not one thing
left of you. Really, what
is this flesh for, if not for absolute
abandon? Look at how it swells
from every branch, like sweat, like easy tears,
like blood from a cut.
Unguarded, unresisting, a freefall
to oneness, nothing in the way,
no stone at the heart of it, after all,
and even the flower is invisible, it blooms
inside the fruit.
Click here to hear “Fig” from A Modern Herbal read by Amy Glynn. (2013)
First appeared in Birmingham Poetry Review. Appears in A Modern Herbal, published by Measure Press and reprinted here with permission of the press.
Amy Glynn is a poet, essayist, and fiction writer whose work appears widely in journals and anthologies including The Best American Poetry. She has been a James Merrill House Fellow, a Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference Scholar, and a Mona van Duyn Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her first poetry collection, A Modern Herbal, was released in 2013 by Measure Press and can be ordered at Amazon.
I’ve always been fascinated by plants’ wildly diverse survival strategies. Some protect their seeds with thorns or spines, some with poisonous alkaloids, some with tough outer casings. If you’ve ever stood under a tree full of ripe figs on a warm afternoon, you’ll know that this is a tree with a different model entirely. Figs are the carpe diem fruit–they throw themselves at you. Hyper-productive, deeply sexual, and incredibly perishable, they must be consumed quickly and prolifically because they’ll be gone in a few hours to a couple of days. There is some kind of a message in that, isn’t there? We are all destined for the dirt; maybe not everything has to defend itself to survive. Maybe what is valuable need not always be secured, tucked away. For some, vulnerability, pliancy, willingness to just go for it are master skills. Those who cultivate that might be those who truly attain that ecstatic release from the self. It’s probably no accident that the tree under which Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment was a fig.