How much does a lemon understand?
Surely not the hand
that wonders its curves,
that knows how to name its zest, pith, and the sour sea inside,
that contemplates peeling, squeezing its tears onto a taco
or palming its balm into a homemade window spray
or pulverizing its flesh with dead eggs and crusty sugar
until it is a pie,
that hand that knows
the angles to cut and the order in which
to serve that pie to the people that dot the table’s circumference,
and has memorized the pronunciation of the possible compliments to the chef
that live in one single language
in a random corner of
languages, a particular leaf
tickling at the summer wind’s lash-flutter
as it brushes each twig namelessly on its way to the edge
Certainly the lemon knows nothing of languages,
which means, in a humble way, the lemon knows
that languages can’t catch –
having passed the tree, splashing into crepuscule
of chiffon and dissolving
into space. And what is existence?
The lemon does not know.
It merely understands.
Note: This poem is inspired by an actual option on a beginning Spanish quiz I took on Duolingo earlier today. Needless to say, it was not the option Duolingo was looking for (it wanted me to tell it how much a lemon costs, not how much it understands.) But I found this question more compelling.
Image credits in order of appearance:
By Paulo Valdivieso from Lisboa, Portugal – A lemon in a lemon tree in a pateo, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46458687
By Hans Thoma – Koller Auktionen, 24 September 2011, Auktion A158 Lot 3203, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16140891