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The Consolation of Apricots
Diane Ackerman


Especially in early spring,
when the sun offers a thin treacle of warmth,
I love to sit outdoors
and eat sense-ravishing apricots.

Born on sun-drenched trees in Morocco,
the apricots have flown the Atlantic
like small comets, and I can taste
broiling North Africa in their flesh.

Somewhere between a peach and a prayer,
they taste of well water
and butterscotch and dried apples
and desert simooms and lust.

Sweet with a twang of spice,
a ripe apricot is small enough to devour
as two hemispheres.
Ambiguity is its hallmark.

How to eat an apricot:
first warm its continuous curve
in cupped hands, holding it
as you might a brandy snifter,

then caress the velvety sheen
with one thumb, and run your fingertips
over its nap, which is shorter
than peach fuzz, closer to chamois.

Tawny gold with a blush on its cheeks,
an apricot is the color of shame and dawn.
One should not expect to drink wine
at mid-winter, Boethius warned.

What could be more thrilling
than ripe apricots out of season,
a gush of taboo sweetness
to offset the savage wistfulness of early spring?

Always eat apricots at twilight,
preferably while sitting in a sunset park,
with valley lights starting to flicker on
and the lake spangled like a shield.

Then, while a trail of bright ink tattoos the sky,
notice how the sun washes the earth
like a woman pouring her gaze
along her lover's naked body,

each cell receiving the tattoo of her glance.
Wait for that moment
of arousal and revelation,
then sink your teeth into the flesh of an apricot.

From I Praise My Destroyer (Random House, 1998).
Used with the author's permission.

Poet, essayist, and naturalist Diane Ackerman is the author of two dozen highly acclaimed works of nonfiction and poetry and was the host of a five-hour PBS television series inspired by her book, A Natural History of the Senses. Her book , The Zookeeper's Wife, was made into a feature film. Diane has taught at universities all over the country, was named a "Literary Lion" by the New York Public Library, and received the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication in 2022. Learn more about her at


Post New Comment:
oh my.
Posted 03/26/2011 09:24 AM
Patricia Esposito:
Beautifully evocative and sensual; you made me taste a delicious day today when it had been evading me.
Posted 03/26/2011 08:03 AM
Wow! Wonderful poem!
Posted 03/25/2011 12:02 PM
yes, betweena peach and a prayer andthe color of shame and a dawn.... L. Tanner
Posted 03/25/2011 11:11 AM
Wonderful phrasing. "Between a peach and a prayer"--memorable!
Posted 03/25/2011 08:17 AM

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