White Nectarines, Free Verse, and Rejection

One of my favorite things about this time of year is that Washington nectarines are at their ripest. For the last couple of years, that means free boxes of red-gold nectarines, lovingly grown by my friends Rick and Terie. But as I bite into these nectarines, I can’t help longing for the white nectarines my Grandma Dorothy used to plop onto our counter, in big brown grocery bags, so full that one time the bottom fell out! She grew hers in her California backyard, not on a farm in Eastern Washington as Rick and Terie do.

Years ago I wrote a poem about those nectarines, and it was my first piece of writing accepted by a popular children’s magazine. Two years later, when it still hadn’t been placed in an issue, I spoke with an editor of that magazine on the phone. I listened anxiously as he rummaged through paper files, then said, “Ah! Here it is!” and read my poem. Sadly, he explained, they were no longer printing free verse; it was confusing to children.

What could I do but thank him, hang up the phone, and laugh. No twenty-five dollar check or free copy for me. And no byline. No readers for my poem. There may have been a tear or two mixed with that laugh. But now I get to share it here, and cultivate confusion along with the love of friends, grandmas, and nectarines.



White Nectarines

by Robyn Russell



Brown Bag

Full and round with

White nectarines

smells of

Ripeness and paper;

My fingers find them


My mouth knows

They’re sweet.

Rumple, crinkle, bite


And again

And I

Am full and round with

White nectarines

And still

So many,

Many more to


About R. Russell

Author of the Unicorns of the Mist series and the Venture series.

Posted on September 20, 2011, in Writerly Mishaps, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Came over here from Verla’s. I like your poem a lot!

  2. Thanks so much, Julia! Passing you a virtual nectarine.

  3. You made me want to go out and find these white nectarines NOW!

  4. Great poem. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  5. You’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed it. It was fun to dust it off and throw it out there.

  6. Desiree Mendiola

    Wow very nice, never tried white nectorines, now I need to try to find some!

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