Those glowing yellow and orange imposters
from the hothouses of orangemen
fetch a mean price at fancy groceries.
But they are only cotton on the tongue.
Crouching, in the fetal position,
under the soil in the little starter pot,
they dare not emerge. The sun's too hot,
the nights still frigid. And spring rain
remains. It's mucky out there,
in California's central valley and in the
exotic soils of Andalusian or Anatolian plain,
Hungarian puszta, on the terraced
hillsides of India, Mexico, or Indonesia,
all, tilled by the shirtless, in sweat-stained
dungarees, gatya or dhoti.
In their own good time,
they thrust their wobbly heads,
balanced atop those slender threads
of bent and burdened necks,
through the pitch dark,
into the dazzling world.
They must be shaded from what
later, they cannot get enough of.
Gentled into the light, they spring,
leap, toward the sky, drinking in heat,
even at night in the balmy residue
of the departing day, as they tap
the reservoir in the ruptured seed.
Soon, they will be greedy, then insatiable.
Much later, the green globes
will decorate every branch, like
thick-hung Christmas tree ornaments.
Full-blown, they will metamorphose
into banana yellow or luminous red.
Savory fire in throat and belly, warm
aphrodisiac in brain and groin
we wade into the fragrant harvest
as into a vast and shallow sea.