Ode to Lemons Michelle Courtney Berry

Today,
the sun-glazed
bag of lemons
adorning the white counter
became
in my imagination,
not a bag
grabbed hastily
from supermarket bins
overflowing
with fruit, pepper, and melon
but
rather
that each lemon
was
plucked
tenderly
from
a limestone grove
on the Coast of Amalfi,
where the salt-tinged air
is ripe with birdsong
and each
syrupy-sweet
lemony-goodness
is a fist-sized
delight
in my hands,
that
drops
into
a cradle of wicker and twine.

I pull
the mesh bag’s
netting loose,
as though everything
now requires reverence,
as though
I could honor the journey
of  hands –not my own—
hands
that brought
such
luscious
fruit to market
without
the slightest recognition.

My own hands twist
the golden orbs,
over
and
over
marveling
at their scented beauty.

My hands
were honored
in this way
by
these
heavenly
lemons,

as I sighed
in front of the kitchen window.

Ode to Lemons

Having just returned home with a bag of Meyer lemons last February, I read this poem more closely than I might otherwise have. It seemed directed at me then and now that our produce is so abundant, it came to me again.

Could it be that these lemons actually came from a limestone grove / on the Coast of Amalfi, / where the salt-tinged air / is ripe with birdsong? Already they hold a scent, even a sound that is beyond my kitchen.

How often do we honor the journey / of  hands even for a short moment of wonder, hands that have brought us this golden fruit? What might it be like to give reverence to the produce that we bring into our homes?

The poet speaks again of hands when she holds a lemon in her own, marveling / at their scented beauty and says her hands were honored by these lemons. I too have held these small Meyer lemons rolling them around on my skin to awaken their heavenly scent and feeling blessed by these tiny gifts.

Whatever sun-glazed fruit you hold in your hands in your kitchen this summer, take a moment to honor its journey to you and swoon at the scent. Already I’m thinking of peaches!

 

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