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In Plowboy's Produce Market
Donna Hilbert

 I push my cart through Plowboy’s produce market
gleaning this song for the first days of fall:
 broccoli cauliflower cabbage kohlrabi The price of red pepper is dropping.
Eggplant shines purple.
Bell pepper is green.
 I watch an old couple choose stringbeans:
she fills their sack by handfuls. He frowns,
empties the bag back into the bin,
then turns each bean to the light
before dropping it in.
 pattypan crook-neck pumpkin zucchini
 A woman wearing a scarf tight at her chin
eats Thompson’s seedless from the grape bin.
 Tokay Exotic Muscat Red Flame
 At the melons, a man in white shorts, skin brown
as russet potatoes, swings a cantaloupe into his cart.
I think I’m in love.
 Winesap Pippin Golden Delicious
where last week there were plums.
 Old man, kiss your wife.
Wash your face in the juice of ripe fruit.
Put beans into your sack without looking.
Old man, we’re in Plowboys’s
every bean is perfect, every bean is right.
From Traveler in Paradise: New and Selected Poems (PEARL Editions, 2004).
Used with the author’s permission.

Donna Hilbert writes and teaches private workshops from her home in Long Beach, California. Her work is widely published in multiple languages and she is featured in the documentary, “Grief Becomes Me: A Love Story.” Her newest collection, The Congress of Luminous Bodies, is just out from Aortic Books. Learn more about Donna at


Post New Comment:
I love this!!
Posted 10/02/2013 07:48 PM
I saw that couple today too Donna. Right here in Waukesha. Terrific poem. Has energy.
Posted 09/28/2013 07:44 PM
wendy morton:
Oh, delicious. Let's all put beans into our sacks. Rejoice.
Posted 09/28/2013 11:02 AM
Especially like "Wash your face in the juice of ripe fruit" Thanks for the vivid images.
Posted 09/28/2013 09:57 AM
I love your sensory imagery. Your poem makes me want to go to our local farmer's market and fill my bags with glorious peaches, fragrant basil, string beans. Jan
Posted 09/28/2013 09:52 AM
love this Donna--the tastes, colors, textures, yum! and the name is perfect! ~ Sharon Auberle
Posted 09/28/2013 08:25 AM
See all those veggies and delights!
Posted 09/28/2013 08:12 AM
Janet Leahy:
The same couple come to our market here, the same woman with her scarf tied, the same array of beautiful produce and people. Lovely poem.
Posted 09/28/2013 07:16 AM

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