Monterey Market

2 summers ago, I visited the Monterrey Market in Berkeley, California. It’s a place, I think, you have to be prepared for…

monterey

 

We pull up the car, walk in, and it’s like

stepping into a festival of fruits and vegetables.

 

Prizes of every color overflow in their crates:

bright bananas curve in the peak of their prime;

red pepper orbs gleam in the sunlight;

leafy cabbages splay outward, upward! abundant as rainforest canopy;

rows of corn sprawl, their kernels glimmering

like strings of multicolored pearls.

 

The air is the sweet, earthen must of harvest.

 

I catch myself standing still amidst it all,

inside this rainbow tent of produce,

when I am jolted aside —

a force from behind

takes the bustling form of a woman;

grey-haired, tanned, and burlap sack-clad,

her sunglasses glint and wood bracelets clack

as she shoves me aside to grasp

the last of the avocados.

 

In her clutches, I can see its skin

is deep purple and cratered like the moon,

a deceptively hard surface, I think,

for the soft butter within.

Looking past my newfound adversary,

I note the price tag on the crate reads:

California Hass Avocados – $8.

Each.

 

It’s then that I know:

marketplace this may be —

but I am not the target market.

In this corner of California paradise,

there is no room for a girl

who was raised on Meijer-brand meat and potatoes,

leftover casseroles and last-minute salads,

2% milk that was all-dairy, all-fat, zero-almond.

 

I stare out at the feast in front of me,

biting my lip (some would think out of zest)

and seal up the sigh

that is rushing out my throat.

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