I bought myself a pineapple in December. Without thinking, plunked it in the basket. It wasn’t on sale. It wasn’t particularly colorful or fragrant. It was mostly unripe— Bright green, like bamboo, With a foreshadowing of yellow. I was willing to wait for it to ripen. The next day, I didn’t even glance at it. I sat at the computer, Jiggling ice cubes in my glass, Working hard To not procrastinate on my novel. The next day, I permitted a peek at the pineapple It was slightly less green. I refilled my glass And returned to the computer— Content with the pineapple’s progress, Frustrated with mine. Two days later, I lifted the pineapple, Felt its weight, Thumped its side, Sniffed its skin. It was still mostly unripe, A fibrous yellow-green. Would its thick hide ever ripen? The next day, The sixth day, Its few traces of yellow were beginning to rot. I looked out the window At the cold-hard Pittsburgh sky. Perhaps, under the cover of greyish grey, It had ripened as much as it could. I would cut the pineapple after work. But work ran late. As a part-time, temporary, administrative assistant, I don’t often work late. When I got home I was tired. I wanted to enjoy cutting the pineapple: Carefully Slicing its crown, Methodically Sawing its husk, Leisurely Pitting its thorns. I could cut the pineapple tomorrow. That night, I dreamed of Hawaii. I dreamed I was my great-grandfather, Hired by white land-owners To survey land for pineapple fields. I stood atop the Maui mountains, Looking back toward Kyoto, Looking ahead toward Washington, D.C. That night, I dreamed I was my father, Hired by white plantation-owners To labor in fields among pineapple stalks. Sweating under the yellow sun I longed for the cover of cloud. That night, I dreamed I was my grandmother, Hired by white factory-owners To sort machine-sliced pineapple into cans. I waited impatiently for cigarette breaks And ached for the closing whistle. That night, I heard the voices of my ancestors: “Two Ivy League degrees and you’re doing what?” “As long as you’re happy. Are you happy?” “Is this why I sacrificed, so you can pretend to write a book, and leisurely cut fruit?” I dream I am not a lawyer Who left Wall Street To get an MFA in Pittsburgh. I dream I am not a not-yet writer Who studies too closely The methods of Hemingway and Faulkner. I dream I am not a creative writing school drop-out Who jiggles and jiggles ice cubes in a glass and never ever finishes his novel. I dream I am the pineapple. I am the green-yellow-brown fruit In December, In Pittsburgh, Under the cover of greyish greys. When I cut into my thick hide, I reveal I am Not particularly sweet, Not very colorful. When I taste my yellow-enough flesh, I realize I am An unworthy descendant, A shameful legacy: Barely ripe and almost rotten. I dream One day My great-grandmother— Who over a century ago Braved the Pacific Ocean for Hawaii With a Japanese passport And a photo of a husband she had never met— Finds me. She throws away my husk and my thorns. She places my crown in cool water. One day The crown grows roots. She plants it in the earth. One day It sprouts leaves. One day It buds flowers. One day It bears fruit. The fruit grows. It sweats under the yellow sun. It flourishes and flourishes Until at last ripens a Sweet-fragrant-tangy bright-juicy-sunny luscious-abundant -amazing-wondrous-holy pineapple. One day I will finish the novel. One day I will put down the glass. One day I will understand not to buy pineapple in December. Until then, I wait.
Learn a new story about one of your ancestors. Interview them, or someone who knows them. Research them, or the broader social group to which they belonged (e.g., Korean picture brides in early twentieth-century Hawaii). How might the holy be revealed through your ancestors’ stories?
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