Fruit of the dead

I spent about an hour this afternoon cutting open and deseeding a pomegranate. It took this long mostly because I don’t know any better, but also because I had to pause to take pictures for my new blog header.

Because of the mess they make, I don’t eat them often, but at the same time I love them. Aesthetically, they’re my favorite fruit.

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I have three reasons. 1) The entire “I don’t care if it’s a pomegranate, tag your gore” debacle on Tumblr from years ago still amuses me. 2) It does look kind of like gore. 3) When I deconstruct a pomegranate seed by seed, it feels like I’m pulling teeth from some great beast.

I came from a simplistic home, in terms of culinary arts, so I didn’t even know pomegranates existed until high school mythology. I loved the story of Persephone and Hades. Honestly, I’ll love most stories that romanticize death and obsession. I loved it so much I had my father buy me a pomegranate from the store so I could see, hold, and taste the fruit of the dead myself.

My timing was bad. My stepmother, dictator of food and cleanliness, was home, and I ended up having to open the pomegranate and pick out the seeds until her fanatical eye. She had a washcloth in one hand and practically vibrated with irritation as I accidentally squirted purple-pink juice all over the countertop and myself.

I gave up earlier than I wanted to, tossing the mangled fruit in the trash and feeling stupid for getting so excited over a myth of all things. “Not worth the mess, is it?” sneered my stepmother.

Now I can admit that, no, the process isn’t really worth it. I don’t like the sensation of dirty hands or the time required to open, pick apart, and clean. But I’m still furious at her for saying it.

I’m furious at everyone who has ever made me feel guilty, distressed, or self-conscious about any of my interests.

Which includes most everyone I’ve spoken to, at some time or another, if I’m honest. I feel shame easily—it comes with the debilitating social anxiety. I feel anger easily too—it always nips eagerly at shame’s heels.

In all the versions of the myth that I can recall, Persephone—if her reaction was mentioned at all—was never angry about Hades’ abduction: just sad, withdrawn. Eventually she came to love him, or at least accept her fate with him.

Persephone is linked inextricably in my mind to the pomegranate, but the pomegranate isn’t linked with her quiet acceptance. I look at the pomegranate—staining my fingers like blood as I ripped its teeth from its pale gums—and I see violence. I see the sort of anger that comes from surviving, from striking the hand that holds your head underwater and clawing your way to breath.

I like it.

 

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