Avocado

I’m getting ready to take a brief trip up north to the Bay Area and Monterey. I thought I’d get out one of my favorite novels and reread it, Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, to kind of get in the mood. Not that I need to get in the mood, but it’s a good excuse to become reacquainted with an old friend: “Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.”

As I was digging around for one of my three copies, I ran across Turtle Island, a book of poems by Gary Snyder, whose name certainly brings forth Northern California associations for me. Buddhism, too. Thumbing through Turtle Island, I found a great poem I hadn’t read in years, and I just had to share it with you. It’s called “Avocado”:

The Dharma is like an Avocado!
Some parts so ripe you can’t believe it.
But it’s good.
And other parts hard and green
Without much flavor,
Pleasing those who like their eggs well-cooked.

And the skin is thin,
The great big round seed
In the middle,
Is your own Original Nature –
Pure and smooth,
Almost nobody ever splits it open
Or tries to see
If it will grow.

Hard and slippery,
It looks like
You should plant it – but then
It shoots out thru the
fingers –
gets away.

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