Granny’s Orchard 1966

Early August. The growing suspense.
A waiting game as fruit swells and calls.
And its whisper is irresistible. And loud.
And sweet like a summer kiss.

Green as grass, the dewy plums,
A magnet to my sister’s greedy lips
Tumble, barely chewed, stones and all
Into her rumbling tum to burp and bubble.
Tummy fireworks, duodenal back flips.

And we play tig amongst the fruit trees,
Look for late hatched scaldies in the ditch,
And inspect windfall cookers for worms. All the while
Itching with grass rashes and hawthorn welts.

The journey home, asleep in the back
Of dad’s green Cortina is uneventful,
Save for my sister’s farts and groans
As the half ripe fruit claws and creaks
As she hunches double and fitfully sleeps.

Home at last. Carried in one by one.
Half asleep, and in my sister’s case,
Half dead. And there was no pity.
No comfort. Just a hot water bottle
And a clip along the ear. And stern words.

‘What did I tell you?’ My mother said.
‘Don’t eat the plums!’ As my sister
Gurgled and moaned and blew
Like a green volcano bound for the loo.

The next day, green around the gills
She swore that plums were evil and
She would eat no more. Ever again.

Next Sunday we went to Granny’s,
And let loose from our silent hell,
From our colouring books,
From the gaslit good room,
We raced past the duck pond to the orchard.
To the orchard where the dewy plums,
Green as grass, called out my sister’s name.