Six sweet persimmons

Persimmons have some fascinating myths around them: warding off Korean tigers, predicting winter. They are also the subject of some beautiful art and some very tasty dishes, the best of which are simple affairs that focus on the persimmon’s juicy sweetness. Here’s six literary offerings to celebrate this bright orange little fruit.

Why six? The clue is in the verse.

Six persimmons

Six persimmons

One: to catch the hasty
A green persimmon
my mouth shrivels like a pea
in a dry salt lake.

Two: to reward the patient
A ripe persimmon
A shade of sunrise tosses
a gift of new light

A ripe persimmon
a faint smile of decadence
on orange velvet

Three: to eat for fun
There was a young man from Fitzgimmon
Who loved to dine on persimmons.
He’d eat them all day,
Starting with French souffle,
Then lunch, then more after dinner.

Four: to predict winter
The persimmon seed:
a knife of icy winds cuts
a lonely winter

The persimmon seed:
a spoon of white to shovel
an orange blizzard

The persimmon seed:
a fork with promise of warm,
mild winters and sun

The persimmon seed:
this year is a cold, thin knife
of antarctic wind.

Five: to read haiku by a master

Rain falling on the
persimmon, its autumn leaves
finally beautiful

 

The air raid alarm
screaming, screaming
red persimmons

 

The persimmon’s young leaves
glitter in the sky
I’m yet not dead

 

The two or three left
become ripe persimmons
clouds come and go

 

Finally the mail came
and now only ripe persimmons drop

Taneda Santôka

Six: a work of art

Six Persimmons is a 13th-century Chinese painting by the monk, Muqi Fachang

Six Persimmons: a 13th-century Chinese painting by the monk, Muqi Fachang

 


Notes

Persimmons are interesting and worthy of more than a few recipes; and there was a Weekly writing challenge to enjoy!

(Looking for the tiger myth? It’s now here.)

Five: haiku by a master. For more poetry by haiku master Taneda Santôka and something of his life, see:

Six: a work of art.  Image sourced from Wikepedia, flagged for Creative Commons.


 

Tiger
Have you ever seen a tiger prowl deserted streets at night?
Have you ever heard his rumbling growl?
Seen eyes gleam in the light?

Have you ever heard the baby’s cry? The tiger has, you know!
He’s heard a mother’s stories try
to shush the infant so.

He’s listened as the baby braved the stories that it heard
of monsters, ghouls; but still the cries.
It needed just one word:

Persimmon!

A slice of sweet persimmon stopped the baby’s cry.
But the tiger heard the unknown word
turn wailing to a sigh.

Persimmon! Scarier than monsters

‘What’s persimmon?’ Asked the tiger, crouching down in fear.
‘A monster, no! It’s worse than that:
A demon, coming here!’

A chance clash in the darkness and the tiger ran away
A persimmon was a fearsome thing
With terror in its sway.

No, not a persimmon!

Our house has a persimmon tree, planted out the front
It keeps us safe in the dead of night
When the tiger goes to hunt.

Could it be true?

Well…

I’ve never seen a tiger prowling our streets at night.
I’ve never heard his rumbling growl.
No eyes gleam in our light.

No need to doubt your safety, no need at all to fear
With persimmons on our window sill
A tiger won’t come near.

For the full story of the tiger’s fear of persimmons, see South Korea: The tiger and the persimmon

 

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5 thoughts on “Six sweet persimmons

  1. Beautiful post. After reading the first Haiku, I remember now eating a Persimmon in Spain. I hadn’t known what it was called, it dropped off the tree, but your description of eating one nails the experience perfectly. Good call! They are such an enigmatic fruit and your post does much justice to them.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Guest Post – A Special Short Story Written by Helena Hann-Basquiat – “Poetry Slam, Daddy-O!” | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

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