Saturday, September 17, 2011


The Farmers Market was gorgeous today -- tomatoes, green peppers, squash, apples, in broad trays and big baskets. I bought a baguette and some cucumbers. Amazing how happy this made me.

That led to thinking about Praxilla of Sicyon, a 5th century BC Greek poet. One of her poems became a proverb: "As silly as Praxilla's Adonis," because she had the dying Adonis speaking as follows of the world he was leaving:
Loveliest of what I leave behind is the sunlight,
and loveliest after that the shining stars, and the moon's face,
but also cucumbers that are ripe, and pears, and apples.
The ancient Greeks thought it was silly to mourn cucumbers and pears and apples. Only a woman would write anything this stupid.

Anyway, I wrote a poem titled "Revolutionary Cucumber Poem," in imitation of Praxilla:
It's one thing to raise the people's flag,
blood-red, from the hand of a fallen comrade,
and another thing to take joy in cucumbers
at the downtown Farmer's Market.

But what is the flag
without the cucumbers
and the farmers who grew them
and the people buying produce?

And what are the cucumbers,
thick and green and crisp
in their market baskets,
without the flag?

I'm not sure I'm making sense. I'm asking what the great ideas and causes are in the absence of ordinary life, and what ordinary life is in the absence of the great ideas and causes.

I'm still tinkering with the last verse.

Cucumbers are precious; so are pears and apples. Eat them when they are ripe, but not overripe.


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