Sprouts and cantaloupe,
kale, potatoes, cranberries.
We study the produce the way
Socrates studied little boys —
one eye alert for corruption,
the other open to beauty.
In the parking lot a woman
daubed in clown makeup sings
a song of income tax and debt,
lost documents and lost love.
We assume her politics show
like bone in a compound fracture,
but we’re very often wrong.
We can’t let her distract us
from choosing vegetables we need
to build bodies strong enough
to withstand nuclear conflict
occurring on our favorite stars.
I favor Brussel sprouts but not
for twelve dollars a pound. You
prefer broccoli although
it suggests the complexity
of trees gone seasonally naked
and shuddering with ghost stories
that keep us awake as owls
scour the dark for creatures
small enough to digest.
Alright, broccoli. I’ll chop it
fine enough to eat with a spoon,
then lavish it with cheese sauce
that will spoil its pure nutrition.
You arch an eyebrow to point
to the clown in the parking lot,
the jangle of her ukulele
wry as a stranger’s nudity.
I bag a dose of broccoli
for our final Thanksgiving dinner
and lurch toward the checkout
with green thoughts gleaming through
my usual lusty pallor.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in a small house in the woods. He taught at Keene State College for many years, but has now retired to feed the deer and wild turkeys. He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals and several small-press books. His forthcoming book of poetry is The Last Concert (Salmon Press).