Plum jam / West Coast Oranges

by | March 28, 2021

I’ve been thinking about getting old.


Not considering getting old: that would be

a luxury quite beyond me.


I am growing up;

Mother has grown a plum tree in the garden.


This year we had too many fruits,

the last almost none at all.


Lingering on each,

Brother and I pick them off,


one by one, noticing back inside

the sun stains on our cheeks.


We remember West Coast oranges

and our small cousin there

in similar heat, her gap-toothed grin.


At six, she used to describe

anything in the past as ‘yesterday’ –

‘we did that yesterday’


when it was really last week;

‘when you visited us yesterday’ –


I could not tell her I had

not visited her in a year.


I return to the plums,

preserve them in a sturdy mason jar


pride of place on the kitchen table.

It is the middle of summer and


Brother hits his head on the doorframe.

I am accidentally called Mother’s name.


We share the jam stood around

news reports and fading sunlight.


I spread it on wholegrain toast

trying not to think about how


it is ever so slightly bitter. ∎


Words by Anushka Shah. Art by Nat Cheung.