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Poetry of the Absurd Guest editor Chad Davidson 24 the minnesota review James Tate The Radish I was holding this really exemplary radish in my hand. I was admiring its shape and size and color. I was imagining its zesty, biting taste. And when I listened, I even thought I could hear it singing. It was unlike anything I had ever heard, perhaps an oriental woman from a remote mountain village singing to her rabbit. She's hiding in a cave, and night has fallen. Her parents had decided to sell her to the evil prince. And he and his thousand soldiers were searching for her everywhere. She trembled in the cold and held the rabbit to her cheek. She whispered the song in a high, thin voice, like a reed swaying by itself on a bank above a river. The rabbit's large, brown ears stood straight up, not wanting to miss a word. Then I dropped the radish into my basket and moved down the aisle. The store was exceptionally crowded, due to the upcoming holiday. My cart jostled with the others. Sometimes it pretended we were in a cockfight , a little cut here, some bleeding. Now the advantage is mine. I jump up and spur the old lady, who's weak and ready to fall. I spot a mushroom I really want. It's within reach. You could search all day and never find a mushroom like that. I could smell it sizzling in butter and garlic. I could taste it garnishing my steak. Suddenly, my cart is rammed and I'm reeling for my balance. I can't even see who the enemy is. Then I'm hit again and I'm sprawling up against the potatoes. I've been separated from my cart. I look around desperately. "Have you seen my cart?" I ask a man dressed in lederhosen and an alpine hat. "I myself have misplaced my mother's ashes. How could I know anything about your cart?" he said. "I'm sorry to hear about your mother," I said. "Was it sudden, or was it a long, slow, agonizing death, where you considered killing her yourselfjust to put her out of her pain?" "Is that your cart with the radish in it?" he said. "Oh, yes, thank you, thank you a thousand times over, I can't thank you enough," I said. "Schmuck," he said. The mushroom of my dreams, of course, was long gone, and the others looked sickly, like they were meant to kill you, so I forged on past the kohlrabi and parsnips. I hesitated at the okra. A flood of fond memories overcame me. I remembered Tanya and her tiny okra, so firm and tasty, one Christmas long ago. There was a fire in the fireplace and candlelight, music, and the crunch, crunch, crunch of the okra. I have never been able to touch okra since that sacred day. We were in the Klondike, or so it seemed to me then. Tanya had Tate 25 a big dog, and it ate the roast, and we had a big laugh, but now I don't think it's funny. I remember the smell of that roast, as if it were cooking this very minute, and I can see Tanya bending over to check on it. How did we ever get out of there alive? and what happened to Tanya? I look around, peaches and plums. I'm buffeted from behind. "Watch it," I say to no one in particular. Eight eyes are glaring at me. "I'm moving," I say. But I can't move. The rabbit says, "Tonight we will meet our death, but it will be beautiful and we will be brave and not afraid. You will sing to me and I will close my eyes and dream of a garden where we will play under the starlight, and that's where the story ends, with me munching a radish and you laughing. "I can't move," I said. 26 the minnesota review Affliction It was a Sunday afternoon, and I'd found an old, shaded dirt road out in the country on which to stroll. The wildflowers...


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