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
I don’t often work late.
When I got home I was tired.
I wanted to enjoy cutting the pineapple:
Slicing its crown,
Sawing its husk,
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
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
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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  • Chad (he/him/his) is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a certified public accountant. He is creating a work of historical fiction based on the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson. Born and raised in Honolulu, he is fourth-generation Japanese and Korean American. He lives in Pittsburgh with his husband.