Vermont Arts Council

Samantha Aikman, 2022 Original Poetry Winner

To the Fig Tree on Kolocep Island

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 I loiter under the fluorescent lights in aisle six, I demand to have the heart of a past summer on my tongue.

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

Consider the heat.
Consider the distance, and the toil, and all the time
it takes to deliver life (first to the palm and then to the lips).

Since when has fruit never
been enough of a reason to return?

Samantha Aikman

Gold Key, 2022 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

This poem was first published in 2021 by the Young Writers Project.


admin-place March 29, 2022