Judith Beveridge / Poetry

The Saffron Picker

                   To produce one kilogram of saffron, it
                   is necessary to pick 150,000 crocuses

Soon, she’ll crouch again above each crocus,
feel how the scales set by fate, by misfortune,
are an awesome tonnage: a weight opposing

time. Soon, the sun will transpose its shadows
onto the faces of her children. She knows
equations: how many stigmas balance each

day with the next; how many days divvy up
the one meal; how many rounds of a lustrous
table the sun must go before enough yellow

makes a spoonful heavy. She spreads a cloth,
calls to the competing zeroes of her children’s
mouths. An apronful becomes her standard—

and those purple fields of unfair equivalence.
Always that weight in her apron: the indivisible
hunger that never has the levity of flowers.

© Judith Beveridge

From Wolf Notes, Giramondo Publishing, 2003


5 thoughts on “The Saffron Picker

  1. One of Judy’s best poems: tender, closely observed, delicate, grave and light at once: the picker and the flowers. Thank you for the poem, Judy, and thanks for doing it justice here, Zeina.

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