The Fruit Salad Tree, by Jennifer Todhunter

The Fruit Salad TreeLime (Tahitian):  We placed our thumbprints onto the skinned trunk of a lime tree the day we were married. Our friends told good luck anecdotes, while my husband-of-five-minutes balked when I broke off a branch to keep under our honeymoon mattress. Phil was afraid it would alter our destiny and hinder our relations.

Spray over mirror: Water from an oyster shell swirled with juniper berry extract: mix in leaves of Tahitian lime to ensure your marriage isn’t cracked.

Grapefruit (Ruby): Phil woke me the same way every morning, with a poke, and then brought me breakfast in bed: half a grapefruit covered with honey, a steaming cup of stinging nettle tea and the crossword puzzle. He kept track of my six fertile days each month, and would produce a fresh bunch of daffodils whenever possible. I knew his efforts were in vain.

Soak hands and feet: A rosemary sprig, two buttercup balls and a glade of grasses wild: cover with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice if you wish to bear a child.

Pomelo (Flicks Yellow): While my days were spent at fertility clinics, Phil’s were spent cultivating fruits borne elsewhere. He welcomed a honey-skinned son weeks after he left me. I burned the lime tree branch in the fire pit, and deposited its ashes in the sandbox beside the unused swing set.

Combine in a sachet: Dried lavender flowers, skullcap root and valerian bloom to steep: fold in a swath of pomelo skin if all you want to do is sleep.

Oranges (Florida, Navel): For months, you were the sunshine in my otherwise concrete-coloured life. Your mother waddled around the cul-de-sac, flaunting her growing body before my face, watering her vegetables, dead-heading her flowers. My gift for you every morning was a perfect orange sphere on your front porch, representing my love for you. Your mother contributed them to her compost.

Sprinkle on the doormat: Star of anise, cinnamon stick and a scraping of black coal: stir in a thimble of dried orange peel to capture an unborn soul.

Lemon (Meyer): I hung strands of lemon and chilis in my doorway, mindful to change them every Friday. The postman stepped on a discarded offering after delivering your crib, unaware of what he’d invited into the house. The evil spirits made your time in utero run long, bringing you into this world three weeks later than promised. The wait was difficult. Your mother was overjoyed, all the same.

Rub on breastplate: Turbanido sugar, kosher salt, and coconut oil to start: grate in rind of lemon to calm an anxious heart.

Tangelo (Minneola): It took three days from the moment you were born to dry the skin of my tangelos on baking sheets left out in the scorching July sun. I placed the shriveled curls in a safety deposit box that held my will, before plucking you out of your car seat and driving west.

Place inside a locket: Needles of pine, leaves of sage, crushed and ground into a paste: tuck in one tangelo seed and with good fortune you’ll be graced.

***

Apple (Pacific Rose): The orchards overlooking the crashing ocean below are magnificent. You’ll be happy here. We both will be. You’re such a healthy baby. It’s a shame you’re allergic to citrus.

Bury underneath foundation: Stalk of oregano, eucalyptus bark and a key from the front door: wrap inside an apple peel to keep what’s inside yours.


Jennifer Todhunter is a number nerd by day, word fiddler at night who enjoys dark, salty chocolate and running top speed in the other direction.


<– Permissive Burn Days, by Jason Marak

This is the Part You Hate, by Eric Shattuck –>

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