The fig tree has fallen in love with the place in the yard
that separates neighbor from neighbor. I didn’t ask permission
to plant that stick of wood between the two houses. It seemed small
and innocent, a foot of broken branch with the only life visible
in the veins of a small white root poking from one end.
What did I know of the soil and its minerals, only that I could scoop it
with one hand like cake, and drop the branch into a small warm hole,
pat the sides upright, and go on with my laundry.
And here it is now, eight feet tall and wide enough to hide me, full
of a ruby-centered fruit, tentacles of crystals, green rocks dripping
with white liquid. If I am too late the head gets so heavy that birds
call to me to pick up the over ripened broken flesh. I carry the warm
tear drops into the house and place them on the table. Here is my still
life, lush and desired. The neighbor has no idea.
Nina Israel Zucker is a poet and teacher. She has taught Creative Writing at Rowan University and has been a leader for the Spring/Fountain series offered to educators by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. She also teaches Spanish for the Cherry Hill School District. Her work has appeared in US1 Worksheets, the anthology POETS AGAINST THE WAR, ed. Sam Hamill, the New York Times feature on the Dodge Poetry Festival and many other publications. She received her MFA from Columbia University.