We Must Bless Ourselves With Peaches

The Shopper

I visit the grocery store
like an Indian woman of Cuzco
attends a cathedral.
Repeating words:
butter, bread, apples, butter bread apples.

I nod to the grandmothers
muttering among roots.
Their carts tell stories:
they eat little, they live alone.
Last week two women compared their cancers
matter-of-factly as I compare soups.
How do you reach that point of acceptance?
Yes and no shoved in the same basket
and you with a calm face waiting at the check-out stand.

We must bless ourselves with peaches.
Prey to the eggplant, silent among her sisters,
that the seed will not be bitter on the tongue.
Confess our fears to the flesh of tomato:
we too go forward only halfway ripened
dreaming of the deeper red.

Naomi Shihab Nye

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