On the Misbehavior of Produce

by Chad Davidson

Now you can say you have known Confederate soldiers. There is one haunting your house, for instance. The owner of the pool hall on the square looks as if he were one—sallow cheeks, stiff, beleaguered manner, the photo negative of hospitality. Even the purple haired kid in your class has a certain Robert-E.-Lee-ness in his acned face. And perhaps the green grocer is one, you think, though you wouldn’t know for sure since you’ve never lived close enough to a city to enjoy one, a fact that makes you suspect green grocers of separatist tendencies.

And while you’re at it, what about that broccoli? Turns out, the sinister svelte of the carrot might owe something to a regimen of heat and sorrow so complete you imagine rows and rows of them stacked in mass graves like those in any common grocery store, which brings you once again to the green grocer and makes you nearly certain each is indeed a confederate soldier assimilated. And while you’re at it, that woman fondling the avocado looks wily, and the avocado itself (grown in California, mind you)—that false pear, camouflaging its horrible secret, the seed tumescent, a wrongful past growing large in its abeyance—and what of the fluorescent lighting like a southern sun beating down on God’s green earth, which again makes you doubt the sincerity of all green grocers. By this time, you’re absolutely certain you must plot each green grocer’s execution, something explicit, gratuitous, something to serve as an example. You’ll teach them, you swear, waving a carrot in the face of the pallid salad boy.

Chad Davidson is an assistant professor of English at the State University of West Georgia. His poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, DoubleTake, Epoch, The Paris Review, Pequod, Poet Lore, and numerous other publications. Southern Illinois Press published his first book, Consolation Miracle in 2003.