watermelon pickles
Watermelon Pickle
by Sally Zakariya

Sweetest taste of summer, melon’s
second act, after the ruddy heart
with its encircling seeds, the green
striped lacquer shell

Sweetest thing mother made,
toothache sweet, sparked with spice,
an archaeology of layers, pale
on pale, served in a cut-glass
dish, speared with a silver fork

and jar after jar on dark shelves
under the basement stairs, jammed
next to strawberry jelly, peaches,
piccalilli, hard-won harvest
of her backyard garden, stooping
in the sun to weed, dispensing
salvation of sorts in the canning,
filled jars pulled from a boiling
bath, sealed with a promise
of preservation

When mother died the gardening
gene died with her—even herbs
elude me, rabbit-bitten basil,
oregano that curls and dries—
I’m hopeless with dirt but no doubt
will reconcile with earth at last

Sally Zakariya age 4 or 5-1

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poems often draw on the natural world and on memories. This poem recalls a time when it was common for women to can fruit and vegetables at the height of the season to save for later in the year.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: In my first fancy dress, age four or five. It was a hand-me-down, but I thought the lace was sweet as could be.

Sally Zakariya

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sally Zakariya has been writing all her life, both professionally and privately. Since taking early retirement from the publishing world, she has published two small books of poems, Arithmetic and Other Verses (2011) and Insectomania (2013). She recently conceived and edited Joys of the Table: An Anthology of Culinary Verse (2015). Her poems have appeared in Apeiron, Broadkill Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Emerge, Third Wednesday, Evening Street Review, and elsewhere and won prizes from Poetry Virginia and Virginia Writers Club.