Saturday, June 28, 2008

In Honor of Summer...a Classic Poem from my Childhood



Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity


During that summer
When unicorns were still possible;
When the purpose of knees
Was to be skinned;
When shiny horse chestnuts
(Hollowed out
Fitted with straws
Crammed with tobacco
Stolen from butts
In family ashtrays)
Were puffed in green lizard silence
While straddling thick branches
Far above and away
From the softening effects
Of civilization;

During that summer--
Which may never have been at all;
But which has become more real
Than the one that was--
Watermelons ruled.

Thick imperial slices
Melting frigidly on sun-parched tongues
Dribbling from chins;
Leaving the best part,
The black bullet seeds,
To be spit out in rapid fire
Against the wall
Against the wind
Against each other;

And when the ammunition was spent,
There was always another bite:
It was a summer of limitless bites,
Of hungers quickly felt
And quickly forgotten
With the next careless gorging.

The bites are fewer now.
Each one is savored lingeringly,
Swallowed reluctantly.

But in a jar put up by Felicity,
The summer which maybe never was
Has been captured and preserved.
And when we unscrew the lid
And slice off a piece
And let it linger on our tongue:
Unicorns become possible again.

John Tobias



And the recipe, just because I always wondered how you could pickle watermelon. Watermelon Pickle, a recipe from Diana Rattray .

(A nice piece by Felicity Hoffecker in The English Journal, if you subscribe or would like to purchase the article. Otherwise, a nice first page of the article. And a second one, by John Tobias also for subscribers.)

4 comments:

ELASTICWAISTBANDLADY said...

Watermelon Pickles......The pickle of choice for women everywhere who have to endure pregnancy during the summertime!

Jami said...

You've eaten it? Does it taste OK?

ELASTICWAISTBANDLADY said...

NOOOOOOOO. I was making a stab at being facetious. I guess my facetious is more akin to FECEScious. :0

I'm not a picky eater(OBVIOUSLY!) but this is one dish I'd definitely have to pass up at the Ward Potluck!

Jami said...

I don't know. I've loved this poem so long that I probably would try it just for fun.