Stone Fruit

It is a wonderful juxtaposition — the permanent hardness of “stone” with the temporary softness of “fruit.”  The picture here is of coconut palms — and coconut is a type of stone fruit called a “drupe.”  Drupes are indehiscent fruit (fruit that doesn’t split open on its own, but instead relies on decomposition to get back to the earth) that has a single stone inside.

Other drupes are coffee, olives, mangoes, pistachios, peaches, and cherries. I had no idea that coffee was a stone fruit! Here is a classification of some of the other types of fruit if you are interested: Fruit Classifications

Stone fruit is abundant in Southern California right now — even the worms in our front-yard worm-bin prefer stone fruit to anything else, devouring every single moldy cherry I gave them and leaving a fistful of pits scattered behind before eating even a single sugar snap pea or old apple.

Poet Stephen Yenser has an entire collection of poetry titled Stone Fruit, which A.E. Stallings reviews beautifully here “Stone Fruit” Review in Los Angeles Review of Books, and one of the most famous poems of all time was written about a stone fruit: “This Is Just To Say” by William Carlos Williams

And so I had to write my own stone fruit poem — and here it is:

Mangoes

We buy mangoes with expectations—
already taste the flower-sweet

juice on our tongues. Their green-
orange swirled skins speckled

from being Earth-bound, heavy,
drooping with juice and wind.

My husband takes the knife,
positions it off-center and glides

down each side, crisscrossing
steel through sugar, like a fish

through water. Then, folding
each side out, the yolk-gold

flesh arching, he releases it
into porcelain bowls. It’s best

eaten like this, spoon and sun
in the early quiet of a just-born day,

the creamed coffee still steaming
from our cups, the blue

stretch of sky like a new skin,
ripe and waiting to be lived in—

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