We have four fruit trees in our front garden – gooseberry, apple, pear and plum. The gooseberry is never quite reliable – some years you get tons of the things, and others just a few wrinkled relics, like tiny deflated footballs; the apple tree is more of a bush really, or maybe a squat collection of branches. We had two apples from it once, and they both tasted acid on the tongue – even the birds refused them. The pear tree is an Old Reliable – every year it produces green ,Conference-type pears. There are far too many for us, so we usually divide the hoard into plastic bags – ten per bag- and sneak round the immediate neighbourhood, putting a bag on our neighbours’ front doors.
It is the plum tree which has surprised us. For the first time ever, we have had a good crop. The trouble is that plum trees have very dense foliage, so you have to peer through the leaves to find the. They are lovely things – blushing pink, or a hint of purple – and the taste is rich and sweet, and luxurious. Now I’ve eaten fresh plums bought from the market- and they were fine – but to eat plums from your own tree is a wonderful thing. The American poet William Carlos Williams wrote a lovely poem about eating plums, and I’ve written a poem which answers it- in a way.
Those plums you picked
this morning from the tree –
which you were going to make into a tart –
I’ve eaten them –
how sweet they were and soft
like congealed sunlight.