I’m writing a series of poems about fruit. Each poem focuses on a single fruit, each written in a different style. Some are almost childishly simple — there are those among you who may remember Cantaloupe In Chorus — while others are more thinky, e.g., Pomergran, a commentary on faith vs. reason modeled after Lewis’ Jabberwocky. I’ll post that one day, too.
Right now, I’m working on a piece about pineapple and I am enjoying the heck out of this one. I’ve titled it The Preposterously True Tale of Pru Huntington’s Pineapple and as you read the first half of it, I recommend doing so aloud to get the meter right. Remember: there is a “grace note” of sorts that one can exploit in these things; I assure you, my meter has been tested and retested for accuracy.
Oh, and one other thing: the second half takes a wild, utterly unexpected turn. It involves a song — not sung by any human…
“The pineapple’s here!” she cried, “Be a dear, Louisa, and go to the door?”
Pru stood, quite amazed, at the window and gazed at the fruit
She’d been waiting for.
Huge, golden yellow — the fruit service fellow had trouble just lifting it up;
“A centerpiece for the century,” Pru mused, “All the gentry
Will scarcely believe their good luck.”
The deliveryman soon was to stand in the foyer of Huntington House;
He was swiftly paid and excused by the maid, Louisa,
Who wore a silk blouse.
The party that night was the unmatched delight of the
in-the-know every December;
A-listers all fought to be given a spot:
On the guest list of VIP members.
The house was festooned (be-ribboned!) and bloomed with bouquets
stacked floor to the ceiling;
They spared no expense, decorating like this;
(The party, it gave Pru’s life meaning.)
Are you in the mood to hear of the food that awaited each last sparkly guest?
Delights for the eyes and stomach, no surprise,
(Worth making dear Prudence so stressed.)
Piled high on the tables inside the great room, the dishes,
they steamed and they bubbled;
Whatever you please, there were tureens of these,
A spread of deliciousness, doubled.
Racked lamb and partridge and baked ham to boot,
the butcher’s best efforts in meat,
Chicken with waffles, deep-fried falafels;
A trip ’round the world you could eat!
Dessert was a feat of sugar and cake, so heavy the table would droop;
Ice cream? Oh, please! There were dozens of these,
Get a bowl, get a spoon, get a scoop!
But in all of this bounty, a royal spot saved — centerstage,
surrounded by flowers —
It was for the pineapple — Pru’s precious pineapple!
No other food had the fruit’s powers.
Hospitality emblem, oh lighthouse of grace, rough from the stem to the stalk;
Its sweet, fleshy inner was relished at dinner
Throughout the grand Belle Époque.
Let’s turn to Pru, our esteemed hostess who,
at this moment was placing her prize
High on its stage, a fruit for the age,
The Missus had pride in her eyes.
At a quarter to eight, the guests had arrived
and swiftly bestowed with Champagne;
They drank up the stars as valets parked men’s cars,
And hung furs for Anne, for Elaine.
Mingling done, Pru and Barry appeared at the top of an ornate staircase;
And a “Hip-hip Hooray!” for King and Queen of the day,
He donned tuxedo, She — lace.
“Thank you, comrades,” Barry boomed from his post,
Pru so glad she could cry;
“And now let us dine and drink casks of good wine,
To the great room, for dinner is nigh.”
The oak doors were opened, the guests “Ooh’ed” and “Ahh-ed,”
“Tally ho! You’ve outdone yourselves,”
Said Silas The Barrister, then to Pru, to embarrass her:
“Did you hire an army of elves??”
Before they could eat, Pru had a brief speech
which she gave at the party each year;
She stood at the center, Pineapple Presenter,
Elocution loud enough they might hear:
“A pineapple means welcome, and hospitality, too; truly the Huntington way;
We wish you prosperity vis a vis this fruit rarity,
Now let’s all dine and be gay!”
Fair reader, I beg you: believe what I say just then, the party plot thickened —