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xii. Signs and Wonders - Figs


Early 13c. From Old French figue, from Old Provencal figa, from Vulgar Latin fica, from Latin ficus.

The Great Depression

On the scrubbed deal table there is

a single jar of stiff and sugary jam,

my grandmother has made

from Moreton Bay figs

because there is no substitute

and they are the kind accident

of wild fruits and Spring.

The sun in its peculiar path

and enigmatic journey

will catch the small glass jar

and refract softly

through its reds and browns.

My father will spread some on

what scraps of bread and toast remain,

down a string of hungry years:

economists in time

will fix and date and classify,

and try to explain

by stats and tomes and tables.

But licking a sweet-sour spoon

of his mother's confection:

the sort of skimp and save

is known now could ruin the liver

and damage the bowel -

he is transfixed by brief sunshine,

through a jar of jam.

Jeff Guess


If you have figs in your knapsack, everyone will want to be your friend.

Old Albanian Proverb

Reading: St. Matthew 24: 32 ‘Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near’. NIV


From ancient days, prophets and sages have had a lot to say about figs—the Talmud speaks of them over 70 times! In the Mishnah (recording of Jewish tradition), the rabbis tell the story of an old man seen planting a fig tree in his garden. His neighbor called out, 'Old man, do you actually think you’ll be around to eat figs from that tree?!' 'If not,' smiled the old man, 'I will have blessed my children as the Almighty has blessed me.'

©Jeff Guess 2017

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