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