Picking pears


Like people, pears will ripen
from inside.
Picked too early you will find them
hard, unyielding.
Leave it late
and there’ll be nothing left
but wasp-drilled carcasses and mush.

Choose the moment.
A cool September evening feels right –
slanting sunlight and the pears
jade green and flecked with raindrops.

Cup one in your hand
and twist – you’ll hear a click,
the branch flicks back –
you feel the full weight
in your palm.

Like people, pears bruise easily.
Don’t crowd them. Half a dozen
in each bowl is company enough.

Leave them for a day or two
to ripen in the sun.

Then bite one.
Taste the sudden  gush of scented juice
upon your tongue,
that flesh as sweet as summer,
white as snow.


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.


How to eat cherries

In a summer garden

Piled in a blue bowl, sun
polishing their gloss;
the name’s soft consonants
springs water in your mouth.

Don’t hold it by the stem
and slice away the flesh with your front teeth.

Put one in your mouth and feel
its cool roundness on your tongue,
then bite the skin, bruised flesh,
teeth touching a knot of bone
and juice, trickling like dark blood
in the corner of your mouth.

Enjoy that ? Then try Bedern. Midnight geese