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The Standing WavePoems
By Gabriel Spera
Harper Collins PublishersCopyright © 2003 Gabriel Spera All right reserved. ISBN: 0060541822
The Mission Olive
It's time, the day says, as it always does, the coming rains will rake them from the tree if you don't first, the olives, huge from months of purpling like a hammerer's ripe thumb. The lawn's peppered already with the season's first windfall, the flagstones bludgeoned where skins have split open under feet that track the ink indoors. So I hobble, earth's butler, up-ladder to the tree's great relief, a plastic bucket to receive the day's take. My hand's small tongues grow blacker in swallowing the dark fruit dangling like gems of tar or opulent mussels clustered to some sea beast's restless green and silvered mane. They thunk into the pail like days into a lifetime, bearing down with the full heaviness of their hidden gold of oil. But though they've stuffed themselves with sweet sun, still they taste foul as bile - the faithless man would surely chuck them. But the patient man knows every bitterness has its cure. One fruit grower's handbook, printed 1908, suggests a broth of pot-ash lye, or a months-long soaking in pure well water, but the method I favor's even older than these words, passed down by a people who knew how human were the gods in all things, how easy to manipulate. Do nothing, they say, but leave the newmoons to wrinkle in a colander, pomaced in a mound of plain sea salt. In two weeks' time, they'll forget, as we all do, the source of their hearts' pitched burning, lose it in the harsh tears their bodies will rain as they soften into succulence, helpless to resist the sweet waking of their pearl-black flesh.
Excerpted from The Standing Wave by Gabriel Spera
Copyright © 2003 by Gabriel Spera
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.