This poem. I came across it two Augusts ago, as summer began to give way to fall, as the clock ticked down the remaining moments of my relationship. Its message has stayed with me ever since: that an active form of patience is the key to achieving something splendid.
Here it is:
watch me open this egg! the first woman said
cracking the pearly skin against a cold metal tin
a swift separation a dead yellow gem
there, it’s open she said
watch me open this egg! the second woman said
placing the orb in the encircling arms of a nest
holding it to her chest for ten thousand breaths
patience, she said
… and the egg opened itself.
Stay with me here now, as I transition from eggs to peaches . . .
Only once that I can recall have I eaten an exquisite peach. Only once have I encased a peach in the palm of my hand, bitten down, and met with that perfect not-too-soft/not-too-firm texture and felt that trademark dribble of nectar run down my chin. I was 10, give or take, and swinging on a tire in my grandparents back yard. I remember the umbrella of verdant maple leaves above my head, the sunbeams poking their way through, the way my grandmother passed that peach to me and said, “Here, try this,” as if I was somebody else’s grandchild, a grandchild with a voracious, healthy, and adventurous appetite—none of which I possessed.
Like the chapter books I devoured on those lazy summers, I imbibed every sweet speck of flesh and juice from that warm, succulent peach. No peach since has ever compared. But that doesn’t stop me from trying.
And stay with me here, as I draw a comparison between our exes (mine and perhaps yours, too) and peaches . . . and transitioning into friendships.
Even when the timing—according to the calendar or to instinct—seems right, even when the exterior looks to be ideal, what lies beneath the surface will remain a mystery until you take that first bite. Summer stone fruit or sweetheart of the past, there’s just no telling. Not to mention our own influence—what other flavors we’ve recently encountered, what experiences we’ve been through since that last taste of what once pleased us so. There is a whole host of circumstances that need to conspire, to work in unison, for that friendship to take form. For that peach to taste like the perfection you remember it once to be.
And when it fails to live up to expectations, to memory, to desire? Without question, there is a void. A disappointment. But you remain patient. You take yourself out of the equation. You don’t blame your taste buds or last month’s dry spell or the timing of that pluck on the orchard. You simply call up the sweetness in the recess of your mind and trust that, at another time and on another day, you will hold another peach in your palm, feel the flood of anticipation, and take that first bite. But for now, all you can do is carry on and stay open to what other small splendors may await.