Today's poem is by Alison Stine

When I Taught Mary to Eat Avocado

                      She didn't understand.

You couldn't cut straight through with the big knife
             because of the pit, or heart, or stone.

                      We gave it many names,

and when it was revealed, bone-shade,
             heavy-bottomed, she wanted to keep it.

                      She washed it, and the skin

dried and crackled, lost shards. I taught her to salt
             the pebbled rim, and dig with the tip

                      of a spoon, which is like a knife.

The flesh curl surprises, but it's a taste you'll miss.
             When she stole the story I told then,

                      how the Aztecs locked up virgins

during the avocado harvest, how this was repeated
             to others in her own language,

                      I knew we were bound to take

what we could from each other and go.
             I didn't tell her what the name

                      for avocado meant, its connection

to the male body, which she wanted no part of,
             which I am now a part of.

                      Perhaps that is the end

of the story, his flesh in my mouth. Perhaps
              the women were not locked up,

                      but went, willing.

Copyright © 2002 Alison Stine All rights reserved
from The Kenyon Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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