My friend Dan lives at the edge

of the earth, two blocks from the ocean.

If he looks past the diving gulls and

breaking waves, he may see Hawaii

way out there, floating peacefully in the Pacific.


Dan spends his days writing fiction,

telling the story of Rolf and Loretta,

the German POW and the Mennonite farm girl,

two seemingly different people thrown together

during the last world war.


Figs grow on a tree in Dan’s tiny courtyard by the sea.

When the figs pile up, as they do in late summer,

he fills jars with fig jam. A friend invites

Dan over to pick all the lemons and oranges

that he can carry home. For me, as a Kansas kid,

I cannot imagine actual citrus trees that dangle with

lemons, like the lemons that I buy at the store,

that ten times a day I cut and squeeze into iced tea.


From my landlocked home in the center of the continent,

I write to tell Dan about the house-rattling thunderstorm

that woke me this morning,

tell him about the essays I’m writing

that describe what “home” means to me.


And from his place, at the edge of the world,

where sand dollars and empty shells wash ashore,

where salt and parrots hang in the air,

where lemons grow on trees like they belong there,

in his little home by the sea,

Dan turns figs to jam, he turns words into stories.

~ by Cheryl Unruh