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Poem: Queen of Quinces

Books & Poetry

In this week’s Poet’s Corner, Junette Schoell looks at a fruit classic to both Australia and antiquity.

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Queen of Quinces

Fruit of paradise in the Persian garden?
Nude pink blossoms gently unfurling,
pale green and golden globes, downy soft
tempting that touch.

Admired for her alluring perfume and
voluptuous form on that tree of life,
the quince… mystery of ancient myths.
Golden apples of the Hesperides,
token of love from Paris to Aphrodite,
sacred gift to be shared as symbol
of delight and fertility at marriage feasts.

Since that magical morning
awakening in the old red rattler BnB
on River Murray’s Pental Island,
celebrating our Silver Anniversary,
a window view revealing an orchard
of old world trees and nearly hidden,
the quince tree… awaiting me,
my favourite Smyrna heavily laden with glorious fruit,
I became the Queen of Quinces.

A gift of Grace freely given, this abundant harvest
of perfect quinces we carried home
for culinary experimentation and creative delight.
My recipe file now abounds with Moorish Tagines
of chicken and lamb spiced with
turmeric, ginger, cumin and saffron.
Pickled with cinnamon, cloves and bay
to accompany juniper-baked pork
or slow stirred to that popular sweet paste
to savour with specialty cheeses,
these rich treats mellow us in these our autumn years.
Marmalades first made from Portuguese marmelos.
Quinces with medicinal powers and virtues
recommended by Pliny for warding off “the evil eye”.
Greek spoon sweets served as digestive aperitifs
with coffee and ice cold water after gustation dinners.
Not to forget the cakes and tarts,
crumbles, jellies, liquors and creams.

Quince mystique…
raw flesh, sharp and astringent to the tongue,
transformed through long slow tending,
to become brilliant, rich ruby-red jewels…
for the crown of a Queen.

Junette Schoell returns to Poet’s Corner with a poem of appreciation for a favourite fruit, quinces, their flavours and symbolism. Having begun life in the Barossa Valley among its fruit orchards and vineyards, she has always loved cooking, tasting and experimenting with food. With an arts degree in English and History from the University of Adelaide, she has taught in private and public schools in South Australia and Melbourne. While living on Kangaroo Island as a young teacher she began writing poetry, which she engages in more since her retirement.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to poetscorner@solsticemedia.com.au. Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.

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