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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 15: Sept. 2022
Prose Poem: 351 words
By Gary Grossman

Picking Figs


Early today, an adult blue jay flew into the upper branches of the tree to perch, and I realized the figs were adults and ready for harvest—and then recollected how important it is to pick the first ripe figs immediately, because if I can harvest enough of these little globes just when they’ve turned from tannish-green to umber, I can push the avian and furred pirates out of my ocean—an essential task because their report cards are annotated “does not share well”—and they don’t just consume a few figs, the small amount that would fill their grey pelted or scarlet feathered bellies, but ruin pounds of figs because some cerebral pathology has them peck each fruit, taste, “no, not this one” and move on to the next, as if the following fig will taste more heaven than earth—and so on and so on, chapter and verse—which has presented me, given that I’m a day late, with a depressing afternoon count of twenty-nine figs with small bacteria-packed cavities in the robust lower body of the fruit, the portion resembling a Rubens nude such as The Hermit and the Sleeping Angelica, painted approximately 394 years ago (rarely can one date these works precisely), but the comparison is apt—Angelica with her robust hips and thinner, relatively speaking, upper torso, absolutely resembles a fully ripe Turkish Brown fig—sides striped with pink where the flesh has overpowered the skin, venting jammy, tongue-pink pulp, and rather brazenly soliciting consumption, although that comparison is topsy-turvy.

If you own a fig tree, not that such a deeply-rooted tree can ever be owned, you likely know those “too many figs” moments, tired of jam, and tarts, and that chichi fig-prosciutto-chevre pizza, and your friends are so tired of even a whiff of the sucrosy fig smell, that they’re fending you off with requests for extra zucchini, but if you can just stalemate the birds and squirrels for another nine days, the 2022 battle of the figs will be over until next summer’s redemption.



The Hermit and the Sleeping Angelica: Painting by Peter Paul Rubens

Publisher’s Note:

Der Einsiedler und die schlafende Angelica (The Hermit and the Sleeping Angelica), oil on oakwood (1626-28) by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), is held by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The painting depicts a scene from canto 8 of Ludovico Ariosto’s 46-canto epic poem, Orlando Furioso (1506-1532).

Gary Grossman
Issue 15, September 2022

is Professor of Fisheries at University of Georgia. For 10 years he wrote the “Ask Dr. Trout” column for American Angler. His first book of poems, Lyrical Years, is forthcoming in 2023 from Aldrich Press.

In 2021 and 2022, Gary’s poetry has appeared in Verse-Virtual, Poetry Life and Times, Your Daily Poem, Poetica, Trouvaille Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Poetry Superhighway, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Knot, Delta Poetry Review, and Last Stanza Poetry Review; his essays were published in Alaska Magazine and American Angler; and his flash fiction, in MacQueen’s Quinterly. Hobbies include running, music, fishing, gardening, and cooking.

Author’s website: www.garygrossman.net

And his writing blog: https://garydavidgrossman.medium.com/

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