“Turkish Fruit” by Jennifer Tonge

Today, Lise and Kolleen Carney-Hoepfner explore “Turkish Fruit” by Jennifer Tonge, submitted to Zoetic Press for its Viable chapbook series.


Endlessly you hang among our minds’ boughs,
light-limned; your skins glow golden, blushed, and red.
Magic you promise, wisdom, riches, health;
all those things after which we reach and reach.


Keep to yourself your secret,
absolute as ice. Should you
yearn to tell, recall only
in that unchaste split-second
surrendering the last time—how
it took forever the tree—


If you would know me, you must break my skin—see, it’s bruised
Nearly black with readiness. It will just tauten, then
Cleave and show my many constellations. Don’t grimace;
Injury is part of every union. You want my
Ruddy pulp; you can’t get it without using your teeth.


Khan’s favorite, from plateaus poised like cool hands
Above fevered plains, rough-skinned site of his most
Verdant longing; you think you know your own, but
Under your hand it is changing—not a globe,
Now you’ve opened it. Hollow without its seeds—


Dis-dark beneath the broad, shade-giving leaves,
urgently dark—they must be eaten now;
tomorrow their sweetness will taste of rot.


See if you can do this cleanly: the cleft velvet
Envelopes—no, purses—unimaginable
Fullness; it will gush at your bite, it will drench you.
Think this hyperbole in what words you choose, staid
Adam reaching, then know it in the flesh: it is
Luscious beyond recall. But, you think, this region
Is famed also for its baths and its thick, thick towels.


A moment of renunciation—the world
Recedes beneath the sudden flush, gilt with lutes’
Minstrel notes. Each one flickers its tart edges,
Undone by that whispering sweet, the same sly
Tantalus that made you reach, that made you bite.


Ever the beloved: first-fruit
rich on the altar, soft landing
in lap. Ever luscious, ever sere.
Killingly do we covet it.


is such a
net, it can’t
ever hold.

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