Sunday, September 07, 2008


Figs. Fresh one are very scarce in Sitka; it has only been in the past two years or so that I have ever even seen them on the shelves here. We bought two exorbitant baskets of them from the fruit truck yesterday, and one is almost gone. The majority of the ones I have eaten were delicious, but still the close side of ripeness. There is always an exception that proves the rule. I bit into one that was precisely right: succulent, intensely sweet, musky, and complex. My knees actually weakened for a moment standing in the kitchen. I know I made a small noise of satisfaction. The smell and the texture and the layers of flavor were sharply reminiscent of... that very thing that figs are rumored to put one in mind of.

D.H. Lawrence speaks on them:


The proper way to eat a fig, in society,
Is to split it in four, holding it by the stump,
And open it, so that it is a glittering, rosy, moist, honied, heavy-petalled four-petalled flower.
Then you throw away the skin
Which is just like a four-sepalled calyx,
After you have taken off the blossom, with your lips.
But the vulgar way
Is just to put your mouth to the crack, and take out the flesh in one bite.
Every fruit has its secret.
The fig is a very secretive fruit.
As you see it standing growing, you feel at once it is symbolic :
And it seems male.
But when you come to know it better, you agree with the Romans, it is female.
The Italians vulgarly say, it stands for the female part ; the fig-fruit :
The fissure, the yoni,
The wonderful moist conductivity towards the centre.
The flowering all inward and womb-fibrilled ;
And but one orifice.
The fig, the horse-shoe, the squash-blossom.
There was a flower that flowered inward, womb-ward ;
Now there is a fruit like a ripe womb.
It was always a secret.
That’s how it should be, the female should always be secret.
There never was any standing aloft and unfolded on a bough
Like other flowers, in a revelation of petals ;
Silver-pink peach, venetian green glass of medlars and sorb-apples,
Shallow wine-cups on short, bulging stems
Openly pledging heaven :
Here’s to the thorn in flower ! Here is to Utterance !
The brave, adventurous rosaceƦ.
Folded upon itself, and secret unutterable,
And milky-sapped, sap that curdles milk and makes ricotta,
Sap that smells strange on your fingers, that even goats won’t taste it ;
Folded upon itself, enclosed like any Mohammedan woman,
Its nakedness all within-walls, its flowering forever unseen,
One small way of access only, and this close-curtained from the light ;
Fig, fruit of the female mystery, covert and inward,
Mediterranean fruit, with your covert nakedness,
Where everything happens invisible, flowering and fertilization, and fruiting
In the inwardness of your you, that eye will never see
Till it’s finished, and you’re over-ripe, and you burst to give up your ghost.
Till the drop of ripeness exudes,
And the year is over.
And then the fig has kept her secret long enough.
So it explodes, and you see through the fissure the scarlet.
And the fig is finished, the year is over.
That’s how the fig dies, showing her crimson through the purple slit
Like a wound, the exposure of her secret, on the open day.
Like a prostitute, the bursten fig, making a show of her secret.
That’s how women die too.

I do apologize if you're flushed.


  1. I think that's why I never got that tattoo. It's rather redundant, isn't it?

    p.s. *swoon*

  2. Anonymous9:04 AM

    golly miss stella, you sure know hot to turn a phrase. Leavin a feller all hot and bothered over a peace of fruit is quite a thing. Thank you.

  3. Thank Mr. Lawrence.

    And a fig isn't just any piece of fruit, darling...