The first time I ever
Really noticed anything
—That is to say, that I
Noticed I was noticing—
Was on a commuter train
In California, age 25, traveling
To visit an aunt, when,
Katy-corner to me, at a
Table-seat that faced backwards,
A man opened a crumpled paper
Sack and produced, from within,
A plastic knife, a plastic spoon,
And one large avocado.
Don’t laugh—I had never seen
An avocado before,
Didn’t know what it was,
Having grown up on frozen
Pot pies, hot dogs, begging
My mother for nine piece
Amalgamated poultry from McDonalds;
And if California was exotic,
That avocado seemed otherworldly,
Ovoid, olivine, bumpy as
Dinosaur hide. I watched clandestinely
As the man sliced it lengthwise,
Orbiting his palm,
Cleaving the fruit like a geode
To reveal the most unexpected
Green I had ever seen,
Not mint, not lime, but
Bright like spring clover,
Creamy as fresh milk,
And within, as though
A world awaited, an enormous,
Perfectly round pit,
A globe, profound,
Which he neatly removed,
Scooping it loose and dropping it,
Nonchalantly, into the sack.
My eyes were wide!
See, how he sprinkled the salt!
See, how he ladled the green meat
To his mouth, sweetly eating!
When he was done, scraping the
Shells for the final, curling petals,
I could have gone on watching,
From California to West Virginia—
The width of the world, in a paper bag.
absolutely love this. I can’t remember at what age I met an avocado, but certainly not at my mothers house that’s for sure. My how the world has changed.
The width of the world in a paper bag. Classic.
No disrespect to your other poems, but this might be my favorite (so far!).
Thanks! I’ve been working on that one for 20 years 🙂