Today,
the sun-glazed
bag of lemons
adorning the white counter
became
in my imagination,
not a bag
grabbed hastily
from supermarket bins
overflowing
with fruit, pepper, and melon
but
rather
that each lemon
was
plucked
tenderly
from
a limestone grove
on the Coast of Amalfi,
where the salt-tinged air
is ripe with birdsong
and each
syrupy-sweet
lemony-goodness
is a fist-sized
delight
in my hands,
that
drops
into
a cradle of wicker and twine.

I pull
the mesh bag’s
netting loose,
as though everything
now requires reverence,
as though
I could honor the journey
of hands—not my own—
hands
that brought
such
luscious
fruit to market
without
the slightest recognition.

My own hands twist
the golden orbs,
over
and
over
marveling
at their scented beauty.

My hands
were honored
in this way
by
these
heavenly
lemons,

as I sighed
in front of the kitchen window.


Posted by kind permission of Michelle Courtney Berry.
Image by Ernest Porzi/Unsplash.

“My hands were honored in this way by these heavenly lemons,” used in this poem, is a line after Pablo Neruda’s, “My feet were honored in this way by these heavenly socks,” from “Ode to My Socks” from Neruda & Vallejo: Selected Poems, by Pablo Neruda and translated by Robert Bly (Boston: Beacon Press, 1993).


This ode was among more than 100 responses to our invitation to write an ode to an “ordinary thing.” We share it here with delight and gratitude.