Image by Jonathan Moreau via Flickr Creative Commons

I Ate Asparagus

By Leonard Adame

Edited by Richard Stone

Leonard Adame is a frequent contributor to the Community Alliance, with numerous and eloquent photo essays and commentaries to his credit. Here, he expands his repertoire with a poem exhibiting acuteness and a fine sense of irony.

 

I ate asparagus, this

afternoon, green as the ocean,

a slight bitterness,

the mayonnaise stark

against the silky fibers

asparagus from Mexico,

as it turned out,

it had no problems

crossing the border

aboard NAFTA semis,

no one let dogs sniff

them, no one said, “papeles, 

ensename tus papeles o los 

mando al infierno verde, cabrones— 

they just nestled in the back

under a canvass, happy in

the damp of a friendly darkness,

happy on their journey

to the promised land of supermarket

bins, where they waited

like pets to be taken home,

carefully bagged, cherished

I ate them, not thinking at that

point, about how they

were grown, how they were

gathered gently, with a reverence

that shone even from a

major domo–they admired

how each stalk was green as dollars,

knew envy was not a factor here,

that the green spears were generous

in their availability in the Hollywood-like

stages called supermarkets— 

all of this, a perennial green fiesta,

while the campesinos

looked northward, toward

where people accepted Mexican

asparagus as long as the Mexicans

sang songs after work and made

sure to smile gratefully

at the bosses as they spit

tobacco and dealt envelopes

with paychecks whose numbers

never add up

still I ate the asparagus,

ate the lives of campesinos,

spread indifference and mayonnaise

on their futures and ate them,

ate them and wondered

what I’d have tomorrow:

Mexican eggplant, bruised

as their lives, or Mexican squash,

green and soft as the souls

of the dispossessed

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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