October 25, 2019
Oct 25, 2019
I decided to buy a banana.
It seemed like a good idea.
At the café, a banana.
A good idea, it seemed, so I couldn’t resist.
A whole bunch of them dangled from the banana stand, all sexy like.
A little stand hanger just for bananas—another good idea.
People say bananas are sexy, then they smirk.
They are thinking of fifth grade and sex-ed and motions behind the teacher’s back.
But they are sexy, hugged up against one another in their crates.
I say sexy but maybe I mean waiting.
Maybe I mean a good idea.
Before fifth grade, I’d bring a banana to school every day.
It seemed like a good idea—to have one, in my backpack, a portable snack with its yellow wrapper curving cream, so chalky so freckled so sweet.
It sort of matched my face.
Now I’m more self-conscious around bananas but I eat them when I run races, which is often.
And also when I don’t run races because it makes me feel ready to solve something or win at state tag.
It seemed like a good idea today Potassium Magnesium Vitamin C Calcium Copper Iron Manganese Zinc these to sustain me at 29 cents a pound three medium bananas weigh approximately one pound but in cafés like this people try to pick the biggest banana because they are paying per banana not per pound.
And if you get the little one or the one with a bruise it is like being pick-pocketed.
But these were school bus yellow and spotless.
It seemed like a good idea to buy all three.
To be ready.
Chiquita bonita so sexy so peelable so cheap—which can’t be said about all good ideas. Or sexy things.
It seemed like a good idea to walk outside, firm fruit in the palm of my hand, but I didn’t know much about bananas, really, that they grew on plants not trees or that the plants are in the same family as lilies and orchids and palms. That some horticulturists suspect that the banana was earth’s first fruit or that Alexander the Great discovered bananas in India in 327 B.C.
It seemed like a good idea, Minor Keith’s, to build a transnational railroad in Panama, to line bananas all down the tracks and sell them to far away people for far away snacks I bet people picked them in Panama too, those first commercial bananas pre–sex ed pre-TV pre-canal going through
And it seemed like a good idea to know how they bred a forest of wild plantains to obtain this strain in my palm, that some strains are going extinct Gros Michel Dwarf Cavendish even Grand Nain
I read this online, that with large scale monoculture, disease and demand, bananas are on the way out—soon they’ll be banning bananas no harvest at all till we figure out some ways to fix this
It seemed sort of crazy it’s not just bananas going extinct but the songbirds too who can’t perch, can’t find nuts and seeds, that they are abandoning nests and ceasing to sing the silence of songbirds so silent it seems I must learn to sing sweetly
Also it seemed like a good idea to cultivate the dessert banana, the one we eat instead of the one people fry like potatoes—people in Ecuador Panama Guatemala Honduras Nicaragua Colombia Costa Rica the Philippines—countries that export bananas in sexy crates
It seemed like a good idea to find these places on a map.
I didn’t have a map but looked them up on my phone and it seemed like, looking at the picture, they’re mainly bunched up at the waist of America the place between the continents that’s skinny probably like the girl on the sticker but I never look that closely.
It seemed like a good idea to look closer since I know bananas really well like how many days they can sit on the counter but don’t know how they grow from rhizomes upside down negative geotropism they start pointing groundward and then they turn up toward the light lifting their hands.
They grow in hands—a typical hand has 20 bananas men harvest them green with machetes at the exact right time bananas are harvested every day of the year, even Christmas.
I never eat bananas on Christmas but if you wanted one they would be at the grocery store.
The average American consumes over 28 pounds of bananas each year—goes bananas for bananas
It felt like all those countries were far from us but we have so many bananas bananas shipped out and they’re well on to saffron by the time they’ve arrived ripe in their cute little dangling displays.
It seemed like a good idea to know a whole bunch of things surrounding bananas—how the United Fruit Company gave employee protection for United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, protection for terror in a volatile banana-harvesting zone.
How each bite feeds Colombian paramilitary groups banana nut muffins banana chips banana bread banana cream pie banana smoothies banana pudding banana fondue bananas smothered in chocolate in honey in peanut butter
And I brainstormed some things I could make from bananas, the ones that browned quickly and threw me off guard since bananas will keep with their mancozeb fosetyl ametryn paraquat ethylene tyramine copper to stop pesky spots, these recipes for the rebels
1940, Panama disease: it seemed like a good idea for growers to move onward, plant elsewhere; they plant on and on, on more new lands but the land ran on out, the ground hit the sea it seemed like a good idea to them, to keep this disease in check to start spraying since there was salt-spray at their feet
I thought it seemed smart to keep going
1950, Guatemala: President Arbenz gave landless peasants unused United Fruit land but the Company called Eisenhower, wanted his help his support in a coup the Company filmed Why the Kremlin Loves Bananas, CIA overthrew him faster than you can peel a red banana—his replacement took the land back
And it seemed important to know that banana roots don’t like water that this means the volcanic alluvial soil must be drained and the rainforest cleared which exposes the soil to intense rains which leaches the nutrients becomes runoff increases erosion decreases floodbanks increases sedimentation decreases water in some places increases it in other places for both drought and flooding so many the rivers the channels of disaster
1998, Cincinnati Enquirer reports: the Coyol plantation sprayed workers with pesticides toxins cancers and the women (their children) lived limbless in this displaced rainforest deforestation how the women (their children) fried plantains like potatoes, bananas a landlord luxury, it destroyed the women (their children) the village to stamp out unions no unity but United Fruit Company: united for only fruit only company
As I read this my eyes couldn’t move fast enough—I chomped my banana in big pasty bites, slime swallow, next thing I knew, I didn’t, but wonder if they did—the Enquirer used Chiquita voicemails illegally so according to _____ according to _______ they retracted reporting, but isn’t it true
It seemed like these messages, news of bananas should be for me for we who eat bananas I ate another have a stomach ache sick with a lot of bananas the rot of banana leaves, leaves which some people eat, too, people who wrap whole meals in them to eat with the fingers banan means finger in Arabic and—my fingers seem sort of sticky
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October 25, 2019