By Heidi Greco
Taking a chance with the avocados
These days of no-contact, no touching, no hugs
we’ve been banned from even squeezing the produce.
Instead, we must eyeball each piled-up display
arranged by masked workers in the quiet of night.
I picture them as they balance fruits on cantilevered trays,
hoping to tempt shoppers like me, while we in turn hope
nothing will fall from the weight of mere gaze,
the distant way we now must measure and gauge.
Hardest to judge, the enshrouded avocado, hiding
the secret of its inner green self. I want to fill my hand with one
enfold its heft to ascertain whether it is soft and saggy
or firm, or ready enough to offer the treat of its smooth confection.
I understand more when I roll its lopsided shape
within the warmth of my palm, can better comprehend
the mysteries it holds by feeling the gravelly bumps
on the hide of its pockmarked skin than
by scanning this pyramided pile in the salad aisle.
My eyes are no substitute for the caress of fingers
which appreciate so much more, accustomed as they are
to cradling tender things, feeling for the start of their arousal.
We were grumbling again about the long isolation
loud enough to trade complaints
with the tenant next door, her stamp-
size balcony butting up to ours, neighbourly
enough, in the realm of concrete condos
high above the world on the 21st floor
(privileged as we know we are), the ocean
merely blocks away, our view this span
of sparkling blue, the distance to Japan.
Evening waves had shifted, were churning a froth of white,
stirred by foreign, sideways winds, furrowing the sea
to lines that skewed the wrong way from shore.
She kept saying how they tempted her, calling
her to dive right in, how she pictured being tossed
by them – a joyous, bouncing beach ball
and suddenly, she leapt from the railing, arms wide,
her open face shining with the red setting sun,
and for seconds, I swear, she was flying.
But when we looked and saw her lying on the street,
she was on her side, unmoving and bent, crumpled,
nearly in the shape of a fallen paper crane.
There is no doctor in the bathroom.
If you’re caught there, you’re on your own.
In my dream you flop your arm, friendly-style
onto my shoulder, pulling me into you, laughing
so close I can see the gleam of spittle on your teeth.
I start to push you off, muttering excuses
about your immune system, all the while thinking
more of my own.
Heidi Greco lives in Surrey, BC, Canada, about an hour south of Vancouver. Her work includes poetry, fiction, essays, reviews and a blog that’s been active since 2006. More info at heidigreco.ca
Photo by George Omorean