Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Peaches

Sorting peaches in Georgia. #WeComeFromEverything

A crate of peaches straight from the farm
has to be maintained, or eaten in days.
Obvious, but in my family, they went so fast,
I never saw the mess that punishes delay.

I thought everyone bought fruit by the crate,
stored it in the coolest part of the house,
then devoured it before any could rot.
I’m from the Peach State, and to those

who ask But where are you from originally,
I’d like to reply The homeland of the peach,
but I’m too nice, and they might not look it up.
In truth, the reason we bought so much

did have to do with being Chinese — at least
Chinese in that part of America, both strangers
and natives on a lonely, beautiful street
where food came in stackable containers

and fussy bags, unless you bothered to drive
to the source, where the same money landed
a bushel of fruit, a twenty-pound sack of rice.
You had to drive anyway, each house surrounded

by land enough to grow your own, if lawns
hadn’t been required. At home I loved to stare
into the extra freezer, reviewing mountains
of foil-wrapped meats, cakes, juice concentrate,

mysterious packets brought by house guests
from New York Chinatown, to be transformed
by heat, force, and my mother’s patient effort,
enough to keep us fed through flood or storm,

provided the power stayed on, or fire and ice
could be procured, which would be labor-intensive,
but so was everything else my parents did.
Their lives were labor, they kept this from the kids,

who grew up to confuse work with pleasure,
to become typical immigrants’ children,
taller than their parents and unaware of hunger
except when asked the odd, perplexing question.


— Adrienne Su


Adrienne Su is the author of three books of poems: Middle Kingdom (Alice James Books, 1997), Sanctuary (Manic D Press, 2006), and Having None of It (Manic D Press, 2009), which was named one of the best poetry books of 2009 by About.com.

In 2007 she received a fellowship in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. Peaches was originally published in Poem-a-Day in 2015 by the Academy of American Poets.

In March, poetry organizations across the country are collaborating on the initiative Because We Come from Everything: Poetry and Migration. The Academy of American Poets invites you to join in their effort by sharing these poems about migration, learning more, and helping to spread the word with #WeComeFromEverything.