—Jim May is writer-in-residence at Mercer University and a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Poetry. He is the author of Unquiet Things, published by Louisiana State University Press.
A California peach brings only sorrow, mealy reminder of what should be. So we drive an hour to the farm, where I have bought good South Carolina peaches with my mother, my cousin, my friends, my children, and now you. I made jam every summer for years. I have learned that peaches outlast husbands. We buy sweet corn, Clemson blue cheese. We missed the strawberries. Tonight I will make tomato sandwiches, which you think you don’t like, but you’ve never had a homegrown tomato. Your life is about to change, I tell you. I pry you away from the preserves with a promise, my mother’s bread and butter pickles. When she met you, she said, that boy doesn’t have an ounce of country in him, but you know enough. We are here for the peaches, your first real peach. Today I begin teaching you the language of peaches: June Prince, cling, Summer Gold, freestone. The fruit pulls away from the stone or it holds fast.