Plums by Mariano Zaro

My father wraps plums
with newspapers.
I cut the pages in half.
He wraps the plums.
We are in the attic.
It’s summer.
We don’t talk.
He rolls the fruits,
his fingers twist both ends of the paper.

It’s raining outside.

The plums look like wrapped candy.
He is meticulous, not too meticulous, just enough.
The plums have to be without nicks or cuts,
firm, not too ripe, unblemished.

The storms have been coming all afternoon.
That’s why my father is home;
he couldn’t go to the fields.

He ties the plums with a thin string,
like a necklace.
Five plums in each string, exactly five.
I don’t know why.
His hands inspect the fruit, twist the paper,
tie the knots, do the math.
I hide my hands under the newspapers.
He is on a ladder now.
He hangs the strings from a wooden beam in the ceiling.

I pass the strings to him.
One by one.
Sometimes, unintentionally,
my hand brushes his hand.
He leans his body against the ladder,
rests for a moment,
cleans his sweat.
My father is old.
The strings dangle from the ceiling.
Plums in-waiting like dull,
modest Christmas ornaments.
Fruit for the winter, he says.
As if you could wrap the summer with newspapers.
As if you could wrap your father’s hands
for the future days of hunger.


Mariano Zaro is the author of four poetry books: Where From/Desde Donde, Poems of Erosion/Poemas de la erosión, The House of Mae Rim/La casa de Mae Rim and Tres letras/Three Letters. Originally from Spain he has been living in Santa Monica, California, since 1994. He teaches Spanish at Rio Hondo College (Whittier, California). More information at