There’s a secret to everything


Papa insisted there’s a secret to everything.


“Do you want to know how the Romans peel their figs?”

I was reading in the dappled shade of the kumquat tree

next to the dried-out swimming pool.

“You cut off the stem,” he said, pulling the old Swiss Army knife

from one of the many pockets of his safari shorts

where he stowed all kinds of tools for the survival

of the imagination.


He made a careful cross

at the top of the purple dome

with the dull blade

of that knife I had found on a playground

a decade ago and loaned to him

for 60 Pfenning a month.


“Now you can peel,” he said,

his cracked fingertips holding a section of the stem

and slowly peeling the fruit

to reveal downy white fiber.

Deliberately he removed each quarter

until the perfect fruit was unveiled.

He held it up like a religion

and gave it to me.


I split it open

and savored ruby

red revelation.



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