Jamie McKendrick


Ignoring the cabbage, the melon and cucumber
—no disrespect meant—I concentrate
on the quince Juan Sánchez Cotán painted
in Naples Yellow, poisonous stuff, mixed with white
judging by the postcard someone sent me
years ago. It hangs on a string, a world to itself,
a quintessence, a quiddity of quince
caught between a jaundiced mortal pallor
and golden life, a hair’s breadth, a breath apart.
To eat this thing raw it must be blotched and bletted,
so best boil it down to dulce de membrillo,
making red jelly out of that hard yellow
—even this size, you feel its density and weight
forged from the steel sunlight of Toledo.