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Winter Fruit

The days are mild and yellow. Birch tree leaves turn gold and brown, but don't fall, and are visited for their catkins by small birds, the same birds that stand on the roof on the carport and drink from the puddles left by last week's rain in its sagging surface. I bring an amaryllis home from the supermarket, the fleshy phallic stalk climbing, the bud slowly cracking to show a red light on inside.

On the campus, between the bookstore and the library, a persimmon tree's loaded with fruit too high to pick. What falls lies squashed on the path. But on Thanksgiving Day a friend with a persimmon tree in her garden delivered a bag full of them to our door, with a note: the persimmons, though they are bright orange, are not yet ripe. We must wait until they are very soft, almost transparent. And that is fine because I have a dozen persimmons, still attached to branches and leaves, in a bowl on the dining table. They light the room.

The first persimmon I ever ate was in a pensione in Venice on the edge of the Giudecca. It was served chilled in a silver cup, with a spoon to scoop out the jelly. Where we go in the south of France the fruit is rarely harvested; it hangs from the trees like lanterns, long after the leaves have fallen. 

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