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First Fig
Allison Elrod


The fig tree has spread its generous
canopy across my late summer side yard.
Its branches are heavy with fruit.

Every day now, the figs grow softer
and fuller; they are taking the rain
and the warmth of a hundred summer days
and making them over into pleasure;
taut green skin and soft pink flesh.

Wearing only my nightgown
and my work boots, I have come
outside at dawn like some
post-modern Eve, yearning
for a taste of the fruit of the tree. I reach up
into the branches, reach up for the fruit
that hangs just beyond my reach,
the fig whose skin is just beginning
to bear the flush of readiness.

Maybe I am Eve. After all,
isn’t the light in my garden still
what came of "Let there be light?"
And isn’t everything to come
in human history beginning
on this very day, this very morning,
when this very fig—the one I am holding
in my hand—is finally ripe?

Or maybe, I am
a middle-aged woman outside
in my nightgown at six a.m.—
filled with happiness so pure it feels
like innocence—savoring the sweetness
of summer’s first ripe fig
before the light shifts,
before history resumes,
before I come inside to wake you,
temptation on my mind.

This poem first appeared in Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets 2009 (Main Street Rag).
Used here with the author’s permission.

Allison Elrod is a poet and essayist whose work draws deeply on her love of plain language and ordinary life. Her essays have appeared in The Living Church and on Charlotte’s National Public Radio station, WFAE, and her poems have been recognized by the Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition and the North Carolina Poetry Society. Her recent work is included or forthcoming in The Anglican Theological Review, Pembroke Magazine, Iodine Magazine, The Mom Egg and Cave Wall. Allison lives in Davidson, North Carolina with her husband Zane and their three sons.

Post New Comment:
A luscious poem, a bit like reading work from Joanne Harris, 5 slices of the Orange or Chocolat. Really loved this simple language but crafted so well for the reader to enjoy. Maire
Posted 08/26/2011 03:11 AM
Linda Lee (Konichek):
The images are fresh and offer layers of meaning, love it! This is everything a poem should be.
Posted 08/25/2011 08:45 PM
Mary Lou Taylor:
A beautifully written poem and a great "turn." And, yes, some powerful lines.
Posted 08/25/2011 02:54 PM
Lovely. We don't have fig trees here but there's this plum...
Posted 08/25/2011 12:26 PM
Glen Sorestad:
A delight of a poem, Allison. And, yes, I would give a fig for it.
Posted 08/25/2011 09:48 AM
Nabby Dog:
This a great poem to read twice for the reader can see so clearly the masterful groundwork the poet sets for that seductive last line.
Posted 08/25/2011 09:45 AM
What a refreshing celebration of life, full of innocence and innuendo; as Lynne Tanner says, a slightly wicked pleasure. Bravo!
Posted 08/25/2011 09:28 AM
A beautiful poem, Allison. It inspires me to go outside barefoot, the grass still glistening with dew-I, like Kay, feel the sense of the sacred in your poem. Thank you.
Posted 08/25/2011 08:31 AM
WOW taking the rain and the warmth of a hundred days and making them over into pleasure...! And I too go out at dawn in my wellingotn and my nightgown, a slightly wicked pleasure. LST
Posted 08/25/2011 08:00 AM
Kay Sanders:
This is a beautiful poem. I see myself in it, walking the backyard labyrinth, early, barefoot, that same sense of holiness and joy present. Thank you, Allison.
Posted 08/25/2011 05:33 AM

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