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For the Love of Avocados

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I sent him from home hardly more than a child.
Years later, he came back loving avocados.
In the distant kitchen where he'd flipped burgers
and tossed salads, he'd mastered how to prepare

the pear-shaped fruit. He took a knife and plied
his way into the thick skin with a bravado
and gentleness I'd never seen in him. He nudged
the halves apart, grabbed a teaspoon and carefully

eased out the heart, holding it as if it were fragile.
He took one half, then the other of the armadillo-
hided fruit and slid his spoon where flesh edged
against skin, working it under and around, sparing

the edible pulp. An artist working at an easel,
he filled the center holes with chopped tomatoes.
The broken pieces, made whole again, merged
into two reconstructed hearts, a delicate and rare

surgery. My boy who'd gone away angry and wild
had somehow learned how to unclose
what had once been shut tight, how to urge
out the stony heart and handle it with care.

Beneath the rind he'd grown as tender and mild
as that avocado, its rubies nestled in peridot,
our forks slipping into the buttery texture
of unfamiliar joy, two halves of what we shared.

Source: Poem copyright ©2016 by Diane Lockward, “For the Love of Avocados,” from The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement, (Wind Publications, 2016). Poem reprinted by permission of Diane Lockward and the publisher.
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For the Love of Avocados

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  • Diane Lockward is the author of The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop (Terrapin Books, 2016) and The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop (Terrapin Books, revised edition 2016). She has published several full-length collections of poetry, including The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement (Wind Publications, 2016); What Feeds Us, which received the 2006 Quentin R. Howard Poetry Prize; and Eve’s Red Dress. She is also the author of two chapbooks, Against Perfection and Greatest Hits: 1997-2010. Her poems have been published in several anthologies, including Poetry Daily: 366 Poems from the World’s Most Popular Poetry Website, Garrison Keillor's Good Poems for Hard Times, and The Poet's Cookbook. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Beloit Poetry Journal, Southern Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Poet Lore, and Prairie Schooner. In 2015 she founded Terrapin Books, a small press for poetry books, and serves as its editor and publisher.

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