Felicia Mitchell


First, you find a jar of figs 
that's stood too long preserved 
to eat without some fear 
of poisoning.  Then you pry 
it open with a silver knife 
you borrow from you mother's 
chest of tarnished treasures.  Lift 
the jar up to your nose and breathe 
the fumes that sugar makes, 
with lemon.  Think, "This smells 
too good to throw away . . . ." 
But do it anyway, to squash 
suspicion.  Just not in the trash 
or compost pile, not with sugar. 
You need a hole in the front yard 
where every summer someone 
twists an ankle or trips and falls, 
where every summer you have stood 
and said, "We need to fill this in." 
Then toss it, after dark, when no one's 
looking in your yard, and lights are out, 
and winter's cold, and you are sleeveless. 
You have to make an incantation, 
something like "Here's to fig preserves." 
By spring, nothing will have happened, 
except you will respect your mother more 
for growing figs; and you will start letting 
go of  jars you've kept for years, 
preserving figs and grapes you won't eat, 
not in this lifetime anyway,  as if 
your house is a pyramid instead of 
just a country home. Out front, 
you plant a brown Turkey fig to seal 
the hole and it reaches for the sun. 

Copyright 2000, Felicia Mitchell 

Felicia Mitchell teaches creative writing at Emory & Henry College.  Her  poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies.  Her chapbook Earthenware Fertility Figure was a 1999 first-place winner of
the Talent House Press Chapbook Contest.  She recently received
Honorable Mention for the Salmon Run Press National Poetry Award and was a finalist for the  Millennium Award offered by Buttonwood Press.  One of her "food" poems, "Eggs," was anthologized in bite to eat place. an anthology of contemporary food poetry and poetic prose

Switched-on Gutenberg/Vol. 4, No. 2