Coconut connection

21 09 2009

A week or so ago there was a spot on the radio about the latest thing – bottled coconut water. Two companies fiercely competing for shelf space in NYC.

This summer we bought a coconut – it was Robin’s choice, actually (“any fruit you want”, I said). We shared the liquid amongst ourselves. Like so many things in life, it came as happiness and sadness. It was fun to see how much was in there, and the taste was sweet and unusual. It was a nice memory for me, remembering the few times we had them as a kid, my father showing me how to strike a Phillips screwdriver into one of the three depressions in the skin, telling me of collecting coconuts along the street in San Diego. Everyone was savoring their individual servings when tragedy struck, a small puddle on the driveway had just been in James’ glass. Small things loom big in a child’s life, and he could barely keep from sobbing. Even after we all shared some of ours with him, he was still sad; it made it all seem more real. The white meat inside, so surprising, was less of a hit.

The same day as the radio spot, I looked for anything on the web about my friend Melanie Faith’s poetry chapbook. I found a review, which reviewed several works, including Paul Hostovsky’s Bending the Notes, which has this poem as its first

Coconut
Bear with me I
want to tell you
something about
happiness
it’s hard to get at
but the thing is
I wasn’t looking
I was looking
somewhere else
when my son found it
in the fruit section
and came running
holding it out
in his small hands
asking me what
it was and could we
keep it it only
cost 99 cents
hairy and brown
hard as a rock
and something swishing
around inside
and what on earth
and where on earth
and this was happiness
this little ball
of interest beating
inside his chest
this interestedness
beaming out
from his face pleading
happiness
and because I wasn’t
happy I said
to put it back
because I didn’t want it
because we didn’t need it
and because he was happy
he started to cry
right there in aisle
five so when we
got home we
put it in the middle
of the kitchen table
and sat on either
side of it and began
to consider how
to get inside of it

 

Poem: “Coconut” by Paul Hostovsky from Bird in the Hand. © Grayson Books. Copied
from http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2006/09/25 (buy now)

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