Difficulty Level 2/5
Look in your kitchen. Is there anything there that you just cannot wait to eat? Is there something missing, something you’ve been craving all day and your family is out of it? That’s what you’re going to write about today.
True story: our son is allergic to dairy. So we don’t eat cheese, yogurt, milk or butter. None of those delicious fatty things that so many of us love. What do we use to replace those delicious dairy fats? Avocado. Our love of the avocado is deep and true. Which is why it’s no surprise that this poem by Diane Lockward spoke so deeply to the family behind Flashbang!
I want to sing
a song worthy of
the avocado, renegade
fruit, strict individualist, pear
gone crazy. Praise to its skin
like an armadillo’s, the refusal
to adulate beauty. Schmoo-shaped
and always face forward, it is what it
is. Kudos to its courage, its inherent love
of democracy. Hosannas for its motley coat,
neither black, brown, nor green, but purple-hued,
like a bruise. Unlike the obstreperous coconut, the
avocado yields to the knife, surrenders its hide of leather,
blade sliding under the skin and stripping the fruit. Praise
to its nakedness posed before me, homely, yellow-green,
and slippery, bottom-heavy like a woman in a Renoir, her
flesh soft velvet. I cup the fruit in my palm, slice and hold,
slice and hold, down to the stone at the core, firm fist at the
center. Pale peridot crescents slip out, like slivers of moon.
Exquisite moment of ripeness! a dash of salt, the first bite
squishes between tongue and palate, eases down my
throat, oozes vitamins and oil. Could anything be more
delicious, more digestible? Plaudits to its versatility,
yummy in Cobb salad, saucy in guacamole, boldly
stuffed with crabmeat. My avocado dangles from
a tree, lifts its puckered face to the sun, pulls
all that light inside. Praise it for being small,
misshapen, and durable. Praise it for
the largeness of its heart.
(Poem originally appeared at Cultural Weekly. Reproduced here with permission of the poet.)
Notice how many ways Lockward describes the avocado. She describes its "hide of leather" that "yields to the knife." She compares the pit to a "firm fist at the center." It is "schmoo-shaped" and "purple-hued/like a bruise." And that's before she even describes what it's like to eat!
You may also have noticed that Lockward’s poem is shaped like an avocado, i.e., it’s a concrete poem. Concrete poems arrange the words on the page so they look like the object they are describing or referencing. The poem isn't just about an avocado, it embodies the avocado.
Your challenge today is write a poem about a food. Make it come alive. Make your audience taste it, crave it, need it right now. Take a familiar food and make us taste it as if for the first time. Take an unfamiliar food and make us feel like we know exactly how it tastes even though we’ve never had it. Your possibilities here are, as they say, limitless.
Bonus Level Up Difficulty Level 4/5: Make your food poem a concrete poem. If you write about a banana, make the words into the shape of a banana. Hmm, I wonder how you could make a poem look like a bunch of grapes? If you figure it out, please send it along to us at email@example.com.