Medlar Jelly

This is going to be a pre-Raphaelite poem about
the fruit of the medlar tree that grows in parterres by
the West Wing. They leave the fruit long on the tree
so that it can blet (good word) to its heart’s content.

Then the gardeners carry it in broad rattan trays to
the flagstoned kitchen, where women (always women)
in long dresses with beautifully embroidered cotton aprons
remove any leaves and cut each fruit in half.

In the process they stain their hands and aprons
with a sticky yellow-brown mess. They place the fruit
straight into shining copper saucepans, cover it
with water, add pieces of lemon and bring it to the boil.

The fruit must simmer under a closed lid for an hour,
until a woman wearing a starched linen cap pours it
into a muslin bag suspended over a large bowl,
squeezing it as required, so the juice can drain.

With an equal weight of sugar, she boils the juice
for four minutes, then decants it into preserving jars.
It’s delicious with cold meat or cheese. The French
name for the fruit of the medlar is cul de chien.



Philip Dunkerley is the Poetry Society Stanza representative at Stamford, Lincolnshire and is active in open-mic and other local poetry groups. His work has appeared in magazines and anthologies, and he has also published reviews and translations.