Figs at Christmas by Irene O’Garden

Photo of purple figs
Figsby Terri Bateman. CC license.

                 for my brother Jim

On the rattan tray from California
every Christmas Gramma’s boring
gift arrived. We dug into the pink-
and-green-foiled dates first—moist,
at least—then gnawed the rawhide
apricots, the gritty Newtonless figs,
their dry deathly sweetness bitter
even to our young tongues. Her present
satisfied us only once: last week.

We’d both flown to salve another sibling—
her twisted brain, your rheumatoid insomnia
became my grief, shared later on my husband’s
shoulder, which he may transfuse in a play
that critics abuse, and the pain will return
to me, listening. All pain is one pain,
choked around the world: that nubbled tray
of shriveled harvest. But its dusty yuletide
memory feeds laughter and relief. I promise
you a figgy poem, and the tray is passed.


Irene O'Garden
Irene O’Garden has won or been nominated for prizes in nearly every writing category from stage to e-screen, hardcovers and literary magazines and anthologies. Her critically-acclaimed play, Women on Fire, (Samuel French) played sold-out houses at Off-Broadway’s Cherry Lane Theatre. O’Garden won The Pushcart Prize for her lyric essay Glad To Be Human, featured in her forthcoming essay collection by that name (Mango, May 2020). Last year Mango published her latest memoir, Risking the Rapids: How My Wilderness Adventure Healed My Childhood. Harper published her first memoir, Fat Girl and Nirala published Fulcrum, her first poetry collection, in 2017.

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