The Apple May Not Have Been the Forbidden Fruit


The fig isn't a fruit but a hollow
garden of flowers, according to 
an animated video explaining
the mutualism between fig tree
and wasp. A female wasp 

tunnels into the fruit's tight 
inflorescence through a puckered
ostiole, her large ruby eyes 
intent upon the goal. Her wings 
will likely get shredded 

in passage, though some books 
describe how this is an insect 
so tiny it might slip with ease 
through a needle's eye. But here 
in this garden of inward- 

turning flowers, impossible 
corridors constrict her body 
like a vise. Almost without breath, 
she has to hurry and deposit 
her eggs, while shedding 

pollen she's carried from 
the fruit in which she was born. 
Before she dies, her offerings 
slip into pockets called galls. 
When it's time, 

these pods will release 
her children so they can start 
the cycle all over again: the males,
wingless and blind, will mate with
their sisters before carving for them

a path out of the garden. Most males 
die before they themselves reach the gate. 
But the females who make it out follow
the wind's warm scent, tracking down 
the next tree with fruit

that must be nudged to full ripeness 
by these small offerings of death.
And isn't it always like this? Cut one
open: your tongue would still knowingly
graze on sweetness, even among the dead.


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