Various and Sundry Poetry

how to separate beauty from elegance

The avocado, ripening on the windowsill, doesn’t know
the eight smooth slivers I will cut from it
come dinner time. It doesn’t greet, with anticipation,
its marriage with cilantro and lime when the hour arrives
for festivity. It doesn’t recognize even the salt that will turn it
into a more yielding condiment, a thin layer spread underneath
two slices of smoked turkey, a single leaf of romaine, a thick
and deeply juicy wedge of an heirloom tomato. The avocado,
like Atlas shouldering the earth, has no choice
but to accept the task of holding all else that is above it,
and so it bends quietly, gently, generously, at its knees,
sacrificing willingly its seed, its skin, its oval wholeness,
the valuable real estate where the afternoon sun
was casting its slim but incisive blessing.

The avocado is by no means lovely. It is of a green barely
noticeable among the blushing apricots, the voluptuous aubergine,
the glass bowl brimming almost catastrophically with the season’s
first golden peaches. Its surface, lunar and lumpy,
could never be called elegant.
The plums, glassy on the sideboard, are the ones to ask
if what you want is to be wooed. You could turn to the sinuous almond
to fill your vacant hours, or a single opulent strawberry to meet,
with bright and easy charm, your temporary longing.

Still, it is the avocado I’ve chosen. It is the avocado I see,
resting in the shadow of its neighboring bounty,
and it is the avocado on which my hunger has landed so decisively
it takes barely a second to acknowledge it, and even less time 
to reach toward uppermost shelf and wrap a fistful around that fruit,
which is waiting there in all its unglory, its perennial awkwardness,
and yet which, in its civility, its selfless and delicate bow
to those more fortunate in beauty, has never been more beautiful.