We went and visited a friend’s house after the market. He had recently moved onto a large property in the village, with fruit trees and grape vines and a sparse square of spinach. I went to pick some pomegranates from the few trees in the corner of the plot.
A battlefield of fallen globes lay in soft dirt. The ones which still hung were strangely scarred, though they glowed like fresh jewels when I cracked them. And then there were pomegranates which had opened with the gradual course of weather and bird and balanced in a grotesque, if beautiful way, from the empty branches….their flesh exposed and decomposing.
I think—god why do they let this fruit go to waste? They could at least make molasses, or vinegar. Then I think of my hometown at harvest: all those apples and plum and pear trees grown half wild in backyards or empty lots, whose fruit remains for the birds and roving animals and hornets and worms, and each year my cupboard overflows with apple butter and I cannot pick anymore. It’s contextual waste. Pomegranates are special in the context of an American grocery store, where they go for $2 a pop, and I make them last as long as possible. Here it’s about 75 cents a kilo so I eat entire ones by myself.
As I was peeling one after dinner, I accidently knocked a spill of seeds across the table. “Bereket!” Selma exclaimed. “What does this mean?” I ask. She doesn’t know in English. The dictionary says: blessing; abundance. Why the pomegranate? She says it is symbolic of ‘bereket’ because it is one, that becomes many.
I think of a line, which has now led to find a poem I read such a long time ago, by Walt Whitman:
Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)