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SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Ode to Avocado

by Amie Whittemore

Succulent symptom of globalization,
when I spot you ripening almost to rot
in J. R. Foodland’s, priced at 99 cents,
I have to take you home, slip you
from your leather to reveal your secret self.
Buttery green or rancid brown, I’m not
surprised. Aren’t we all a bit of both—
I avoid your foul freckles, scoop
edacious smears of fat onto spinach,
and kale, chickpeas and tomato—
all grown far past a ten-mile radius.
I’m no Barbara Kingsolver—buying
a CSA share is for the partnered,
the communed, the familied—I’m here
in Tennessee singing one is the loneliest number
unironically, certain my apples
from Chile and mangoes from Mexico
are small potatoes compared to the latest
international imbroglio.
		Once my ex-girlfriend’s uncle’s
ex-boyfriend told me how he’d pocket
an avocado from the neighbor’s tree
on his way to work in California,
the lack of grime in his voice revealing
his unhappiness about life in rural Montana.
Despair is just another word for being alive.
If it weren’t for the darkening
of this avocado’s flesh, I’d go back
and buy the bulk, fattening myself
one avocado at a time until, unrecognizable,
I could return to my hometown feeling, for once,
plump and comfortable as a biscuit.
		Would this avocado taste
better if I were a better person? If I lived
in California and owned an avocado tree?
Better in my belly than to decay
after all those carbon emissions ferried
the fruit from wherever to here.
Shame’s faint rind—zest of lemon,
hint of sage—enhances the flavor,
making light of every choice,
so you can no longer tell cynicism from sincerity,
		belief from its suspension.

—Previously published as a slightly different version in the San Diego Poetry Annual 2017-18 (Garden Oak Press, in association with the San Diego Entertainment & Arts Guild [SDEAG]; February 2018); appears here with permissions from the poet and the publisher


SHJ Issue 18
Spring 2018

Amie Whittemore

is the author of Glass Harvest (Autumn House Press, 2016). She is also co-founder of the Charlottesville Reading Series and Associate Editor at Poem of the Week. An instructor at Middle Tennessee State University, she holds degrees from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (B.A.), Lewis and Clark College (M.A.T.), and Southern Illinois University Carbondale (M.F.A.). Her poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Sycamore Review, Rattle, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere.

Author’s website:

[Webmaster’s Note: Be sure to check out Whittemore’s list of works online, which also includes links to interviews, podcasts, reviews of her book, etc.]

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury