The Artichoke


From the Archive

William Morris & Co., Wallpaper Sample Book 1, Artichoke, pattern #359, ca. 1915

Nin Andrews’s poem “The Artichoke” appeared in our Fall 1991 issueHer most recent collection is Why God Is a Woman.

The first time I saw it, I thought what an ugly specimen. It looked like Grandma’s bathing cap, grown green and small after all these years. I sliced it open and tasted the pale flesh. And gradually she offered herself up leaf by leaf. In her depth she held a tiny, faded star, a spark that fell in the meteor shower over Frank’s garden. I developed a taste for her expensive style: fancy restaurants, wines by candlelight. Sometimes we stayed inside and read by firelight, drinking the leftover melted butter, wiping the grease on shirt sleeves. I introduced her to friends. She had the heart of a Buddha. Green leaves of flame. Everyone adored her, and she was irresistible. Nightly I grasped her like a seashell and listened to the nothing philosophers spend lifetimes writing about. I became accustomed to the look of a chilled vegetable, kept in the icebox all day. Then one evening there were no leftovers. I went to the grocery store. The sales clerk said artichokes are out of season. This is not San Diego. Still I dreamt of her, dipped in lemony butter, scraped carefully with teeth and sucked, the pale cream of flesh, the tender flower, her skirt held up like a cup, each sip bringing me closer to the moon, the vegetable pearl of her insides where the heart fans out fibrous hairs and waits a last mouthful on her green world.