Friday, June 23, 2017

Avocado Cantata

          Still Life with Apple and Avocado by Dan Haraga

I had my first avocado in Las Vegas 
around 1953 when I was hitchhiking 
from Boston to sunny San Diego.
I had just turned twenty-one as I recall.
I was a college student in Vermont
majoring in English literature.
I’d never seen an avocado before
having grown up blue collar in Boston,
nominally Irish-Catholic,
I had eaten potatoes aplenty
until they were coming out of my ears—
boiled, baked, mashed, sliced, fried—“variety
was the splice of life,” my queer uncle said.
Not that he’d ever tried avocados
or anyone else in my family.
My reaction to my first avocado
was that it had no taste at all, nothing.
You had to develop a taste for it.
At least that’s what i told myself at first.
It was like chewing a lot of nothing.
I thought of it as “Vacant and voluptuous.”
That was the English lit major speaking.
What kind of poem might Keats have written 
about the avocado? “Hail to thee, 
Alligator Pear, puzzling forbidden fruit!”

Adam would have decried its tastelessness, 
Eve snickering at the sour face he made
when he bit into it for the first time.
I developed a taste for them that summer
in San Diego where they were a staple,
Mexico being the world’s major source. 
An avocado afficionado, 
I moved to San Diego with my B.A.
from Middlebury in Vermont
to pursue a Ph.D. at U.C.S.D..
writing my dissertation on 
“Keats’ Unconscious Craving for Avocados.”

I credit my advanced age to exercise and diet—
of which avocados were the staff of life.
“I’m eighty-seven going on nine-hundred,” 
is what I say when asked how old I am. 
But the truth is avocados and age
became much too much of a good thing.
I regret living as long as I have
and being crazy about avocados
from which I want an eternal vacation.
Even without any major illness,
life in the end is a pain in the ass
and I refer not just to hemorrhoids.
Global warming is now a reality,
not just a stark, hellish hypothesis.

The shelf life of picked avocados is brief
in contrast to which apples are Methuselahs,
but in global warming an avocado
is like a snowball in hell or a popsicle
in a pizza oven in Pensacola.
A peeled avocado is fresh as long
as a firefly’s flash lasts, which is about,
roughly speaking, 0.76 of a second.
The edibility of peeled avocados
can be lengthened with refrigeration
and polyethylene food wrap.
But what’s the point of it all?
Of life I mean, which will become
intolerable in the lives of our children,
which I thankfully have had none.
It’s a small consolation but I don’t
have to think about progeny
roasting in Canada and Siberia
which will be crowded with refugees
and where avocados will be sold
on street corners because in
tropical climates they will grow
profusely as fruit on trees,
which is what they can’t help being.

                        Robert Forrey