Plum jam / West Coast Oranges
by Anushka Shah | 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.