First summer squash

 

The first summer squash is ready for picking,

And reaching down through the floating canopy

Of broad mottled leaves, past the buoyant piping

Of the stems, toward the soft orange stars of the blooms

(What just leapt away was a leopard frog),

It's as though you've entered a late still life

Of Cézanne's, one of his re-creations

Of things before they'd fallen with the world.

And you grasp the squash, twist it off the stalk,

And taking that pod of pure color in your hand

It's an immediate friend to the soul—

It's something to remember Paradise by.

How was the winter endured without this?

What you hold is so ideally yellow!

It is so delicious to the eye!

You might expect it's yellow through and through,

Like divine clay waiting to be modeled

Or the early embryo of a solar god.

Even the lemon has to blush a little

At this most faithful disciple of the Sun,

Who wears on its skin the gold standard of yellow,

For which all other yellows must be qualified

With adjectives from acid to zinc,

Being a bit too orange, or a bit too green.

Yet its purity is in no way monotonous;

Its flaws, like the beloved's, helplessly ignored.

But now it's time harvest a green pepper

And a red onion, pinch off a sprig of parsley

And oregano, and serve this squash

In the first home-grown stir-fry of the season;

For a summer squash is like a sacrificial lord

Who's only truly happy divided and devoured.