Meghan McClure

Remember That Quince Can Burn Like A Star

Remember when you used to write quinces into everything? I still haven’t eaten one.
My knives are neither strong nor sharp enough & I never have enough sugar in the house.

 

Their bright yellow, heavily perfumed skin tempts my teeth when I find them in the market,
but you warned me off. There was a storm the day after you first said the word quince &

 

I had to ask you to explain. Cut them at the equator & there is a star of seeds, you said,
but you have to cook them.
As if it were easy, as if it were known to everyone except me. Can you feel

 

the rain about to fall again?, I asked to change the subject. I had never had a garden & you
looked at me like I could never understand something as complicated as a fruit in need

 

of wine & sugar & spices. I thought fruit was simple & this frustrated you. I wanted only
what I could sink my teeth into now, now, now. But I understand the way desire is better

 

after the work done to soften it. You sent me a letter when years later I asked for more.
Peel, chop, simmer, sweeten, & spice. I put the letter in a box & forgot about quinces until today

 

when I walked deeper into a city I don’t really know & the yellow caught my eye. I could not
resist. They were warm & heavy like a late summer storm in Ohio. My breath caught

 

at the sight of them. Dear, even your richest description could not prepare me
for the inedible fruits I found tucked beneath the smallest tree. How knobbly they are,

 

how tough against my teeth, how bright they are, like tiny fires in the shade.
You tried to save me from this, didn’t you? How long will my mouth burn this way?

 

 

Meghan McClure is author of the chapbook Portrait of a Body in Wreckages (Newfound Press, 2017) and co-author of A Single Throat Opens (Black Lawrence Press, 2017). Her work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Tupelo Quarterly, American Literary Review, Pithead Chapel, American Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She lives in California. Her favorite sweet is anything in pie form.

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