Two Theories

by Rhina P. Espaillat

“So, why do drupes choose to remain
closed at maturity?”


A friend in love with words—the more obscure
the better—writes me this: “Drupacious fruit
whose outer fibrous husk...” and so forth. Pure
joy, his motive, the way each vowel’s flute
or oboe hums, how consonants bang shut
or close like wings, like “indehiscent”, for
“closed at maturity”. The coconut
is that—the “almost leathery” almond, or
any flesh in armor, like a knight—
but playful: a wry monk whose hairshirt’s worn
on the outside. To kindle appetite
for common meat, for the false gold of corn
in its tenacious silk, what could be better
than difficult approach, the husk, the letter?


Or maybe this is more in keeping with
vegetable motives—if there are
such motives—than the cold, seductive myth
of the seductive: that they seek to bar
passage into the core, not to entice
but to be left alone; yes, that they seem,
and are, aloof, not to inflate their price
but to remain unbought: the hermit’s dream
in earnest! No, impossible, you think:
nothing in nature wants to die for keeps.
What good is any fruit without some chink
to lure marauders in where the seed sleeps,
to wake the future up and tease it out?
Still, here we have the drupe, to raise a doubt.


Read Donald Mace Williams’ review in the Rattle Blog of Rhina P. Espaillat’s Her Place in These Designs (Truman State University Press, 2008).