by Marilyn Hilton
When did all this leaving begin?
I wonder, as I wash my hands
with the sliver of soap
my daughter says is made of figs.
It smells like warm sugar and stings like salt.
Then we hug good-bye
until her arms twitch to push me away.
I drive away and take the coastal road
that stretches the long blue cord
of ocean, and think of the composition of a fig--
which is a flower tucked into itself--
as the residue of tiny fists
pull at my insides still, and draw out
a new wail.
I can’t do this,
I had said to my husband,
Can’t, to the face of my doctor
filling my vision with his Push!
Will not, to that room of blinding light and silhouettes,
before I heaved and turned us inside out—Oh,
that was her alone
slipping away in the saline moment
when it all began.
And now, as the horizon vanishes behind me
and fog creeps in like the night nurse,
I wonder Why?
She is still young and doesn’t know
figs are consumed whole--
the skin, the flesh, the seeds all together;
only the stem remains.
My hands will hold that scent forever.
And when I reach home, I will call her
and teach her everything I know about figs.
Marilyn Hilton’s poems and short stories have appeared in Mid-American Review, Reed, and Japanophile. She is also the author of the novels Full Cicada Moon (Dial, 2015) and Found Things (Atheneum, 2014). A native New Englander, Marilyn now lives with her family in Northern California where she edits software documentation. Her website is: www.marilynhilton.com