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Botanical illustration of the avocado plant


My son comes into the kitchen
and asks if he can have an avocado.

A vo ca do, he says, loving the weight
of each green syllable on his tongue.

Avocados represent an immense step
for him, an evolutionary leap

far beyond the narrow confines
of cornflakes, wherein
he has dwelt for so long. The breast,
the cornflake, the avocado:
such has been his journey, thus far.

You’ll have to wait
until they’re ripe, I tell him.
Want some cornflakes instead?
No thanks, he says, and wanders back
into the world of being five, while I—
I’m doing the dishes at this point—

I start thinking about ripening
and how glad I am that it takes time,

and his own ripening
will be years in the making. Years,
I say aloud, enjoying that long,
luxurious syllable, like a cat
stretching out on my tongue,

as Michael comes in again,
it’s been five minutes,
and asks, Are they ripe yet?

No, not quite yet.
Want some cornflakes in the meantime?

That’s OK, he says. I’ll wait.

—from Cheap Motels of My Youth

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