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