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Figs and Birds


Figs ripen: each green 

protuberance becomes a bruised 

yellow, elongates like a stocking

holding a ball.  

I know inside it’s sweet. 

So do the birds.  They peck,

leaving red indentations,

these little thieves taking

what is mine.  I’ve come to hate 

them.  Even though I’ve sprinkled 

poison on the tree’s roots,

the ants arrive attacking, not virgin 

figs, but old whores 

already pecked by the birds.

Ants feast, till all that’s left 

is a limp, long piece of fig skin.

I drape black garden hose as snake, 

looping and curling 

throughout the tree. The birds 


but not for long.

The tree becomes a battlefield again,

figs wounded, red gashes.

I put a net over ripening fruit--

birds dive, only to return empty,

sit bewildered on the nearby tree.

I watch in triumph.

But they persist, 

and later I find a goldfinch 

and red cardinal, dead, 

net strands unyielding.

I murdered the loveliest. 

I cut the entrapping web, 

consign their bodies

to the vinca under the tree. 

Birds come back, 


Figs and Birds - E. Laura Golberg
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Published in Pebble Lake Review

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