April 8, 2007

Of the Potato

After Erica Jong's "Fruits & Vegetables."

Nobody ever writes in praise of
the potato. The potato lacks
the firm, jewel-skinned, sweet-fleshed allure
of the apple - wholesome, like
a sleeping virgin, all ripe & waxed & shiny.

Nor does the potato have
the slick, green sex appeal
of the avocado, like
a pneumatic Martian pin-up
with a Californian accent.

Even among the vegetables,
the potato's rank is humble. How can it compete
with the richly colored, musically named
broccoli & zucchini,
or the fleshy, glossy aubergine,
or even lettuce, when it is freshly washed,
glittering smugly in the background
like a society wife,
and never mind the wilted edges.

No one has ever seduced a well-dressed man
by feeding him potatoes. The potato looks
like a peasant woman, lumpy,
with potato-brown hands
and dirt on her apron. It is
quietly ushered from polite tables
and pointed in the direction
of immigrants and the poor. And

when have the poor ever had time
to write in praise
of the potato?