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Greengrocer


ISSUE:  Spring 2012

Having made the maze of cartons, bins,
and scales, he moves, aproned, unseen among them,
the architectures his to build and rebuild,
pyramids of waxy fruit stickered,
tattooed—out of season and in, exotic
and ordinary. He bends over peaches
and berries, culling out by sight the overripe
netted pears, the lettuces. Braids of garlic,
snake-fat, the color of clotted cream
in this low light, suspend from the ceiling,
herbs misted beneath them, spray finer
than fog. The customers handle all
of what he has displayed, worried, skeptical
as they might be about an unborn child,
or one they might conceive, adopt, anxious
for a scan, some document to guarantee
what they will find when they cut into what
cannot be returned. If ever asked,
he would suggest watermelon, nestled
in a bed of clearest ice, halved and quartered,
weighed, and wrapped in a thin membrane of plastic—
briefest preserve of the cleaved seedlessness
for which he knows they will pay more.

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