Entry for June 27, 2007

“Real Greek Olives” copyright by Jackson Chang, uploaded on Flickr november 5, 2005.

Olives

Sometimes a craving comes for salt, not sweet,
For fruits that you can eat
Only if pickled in a vat of tears —
A rich and dark and indehiscent meat
Clinging tightly to the pit — on spears

Of toothpicks, maybe, drowned beneath a tide
Of vodka and vermouth,
Rocking at the bottom of a wide,
Shallow, long-stemmed glass, and gentrified;
Or rustic, on a plate cracked like a tooth —

A miscellany of the humble hues
Eponymously drab —
Brown greens and purple browns, the blacks and blues
That chart the slow chromatics of a bruise —
Washed down with swigs of barrel wine that stab

The palate with pine-sharpness. They recall
The harvest and its toil,
The nets spread under silver trees that foil
The blue glass of the heavens in the fall —
Daylight packed in treasuries of oil,

Paradigmatic summers that decline
Like singular archaic nouns, the troops
Of hours in retreat. These fruits are mine —
Small bitter drupes
Full of the golden past and cured in brine.

A.E. Stallings
The New Criterion
June 2006

Nice poem, eh? I wasn’t familiar with the word “indehiscent” which refers to the fruit of plants which don’t open to release the seeds, as opposed to those, say of beans.

Stallings (website), who lives in Greece, directs a poetry workshop for The Athens Center on Spetses, one of the Salonic Islands. It’s taking place right now. Maybe next year?

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