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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 12, Number 4, December 2018
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Patricia Sammon
Huntsville, Alabama, USA


Six Seeds

I went to the grocery store in search of fresh pomegranates and was informed that they were currently out of season. I was rather thrilled to be reminded that something as incidental as a season could influence availability. Produce departments like the one I frequent seem dedicated to the idea that customers must have a year-round supply of plums and tomatoes, pineapples and passion fruit. Accordingly, the fruits and vegetables are harvested rock-hard, crated onto train cars throughout the country or onto cargo freighters throughout the world, and then induced at the last minute to ripen under a fake ethylene mist. The resultant, brightly colored arrangements actually shimmer. This is because stores install the means for automated rain showers to bejewel the no longer growing cucumbers and apricots. In my store the scheduled drizzles are preceded by a recording of a distant thunder clap. This no doubt serves to rouse nostalgic notions of grandparents sitting in contented exhaustion on farm house porches, listening to the approach of a thunderstorm that will save the crops, and hence the farm, and hence the family. Or perhaps the thunder recordings serve only to warn customers, in their elegant business suits, to delay reaching into the bounty for yet one more moment, lest sleeves get a quick soaking.

bar-coded apple
the juicy absence
of flavor

The Greek goddess of the harvest was Demeter. When her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades, the god of the underworld, Demeter’s rage annihilated the crops. Grapes and tomatoes withered on the vines. The land grew icy cold. Mortals suffered famine. Finally Zeus ordered Hades to yield up the beautiful Persephone. But before complying, Hades tricked Persephone into tasting a pomegranate. She consumed six seeds—each nestled in a small pouch of nectar. And because she had tasted of the fruit that is sacred to the underworld, Persephone was condemned to return to Hades for six months of every year. During those months Demeter’s heart was made barren by her daughter’s absence, and the seasons of late fall and long winter and early, chill spring fell yearly upon the fields. I suppose if the produce department had to have one fruit be occasionally unavailable, it’s appropriate that it be the fruit associated with the very creation of seasons.

But wait … the produce manager told me that if instead of whole pomegranates, I could make do with fresh pomegranate seeds, he had a ready supply. I told him that pre-hulled and scooped pomegranates would be super convenient. The manager pointed to a bed of crushed ice in which stood, like a Greek phalanx, an array of small plastic cups, each brimming with red, edible jewels. Had they been flown in, first class, from some nether region that appeared on no map? I did not ask. I made my escape, holding my super-food, feeling like an immortal.

beside a parked Thunderbird
sparrows feast
on a piece of Wonder bread

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