Still Life With Figs

Joanna Boulter

An untidy package, all its granular guts
stuffed into a sort of beanbag. Skin
contains the seeds, holds them bottom-heavy
bellying to a slight sideways droop
from offcentre nipples. Faint vertical veins
do not succeed in corseting their shape,
their generous opulence. And the colour!
they are plush, dull purple. Washed,
a faint grey bloom vanishes, returns with dryness.
I get a knife, halve one, am shocked
by brightness - scarlet seeds in scarlet flesh,
and the rind between them and the skin
(that smoky plum-colour) is a wholly surprising
pale greenish cream, the sort of colour
that looks smooth to the touch. It is.
But a quartered fig has nothing to hold its shape,
no inner membrane, no tension
nipple to base. That point of skin,
released, lifts, and the tiny seeds begin to fall,
a few at a time, bright on the white plate.
And suddenly I'm thinking
of my own sliced skin, my own severed
breast, fallen away into a dish.

Joanna Boulter's Still Life With Figs won the first prize of £1000 in the Poetry London 2003 Competition, and has been published in the Summer 2003 issue of the magazine.

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Still Life With Figs © 2003 Joanna Boulter: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.

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