Old Celery

At the corner greengrocer
I’d passed you many times before,
always under the bright lights,
water beading up on your tough skin.

I picked up a tomato,
a pair of kohlrabi,
a handful of coriander;
I had money this time.

As I counted my change,
a penny dropped down under your stand.
On the way up, you,
old celery, caught my eye.

You’d been moved to a darker corner
of the produce. I now felt
guilt; I had missed
you in your prime.

I set down the other vegetables,
took you, limp and barely
green, and left a hollow yellow
in the bed of shaved ice.

When I held you up
to get a fair look, there was
not a silence in the world
like the silence between us.

Like so many things I’ve not wanted
to see until they persisted
in seeing me, I took you
as if now I had a choice.

Mark Yakich
from his book Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross
Penguin Books, 2004

used with permission of the poet

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