What we named and ate

De uvas a peras, meaning once 
      in a blue moon, or rarely. From
grapes to pears, then summer's harvest 
      gone. Only their bottled essence left 
to warm us in the doldrums of winter. 
      Uvas de la suerte: wine-red, eaten 
at midnight on New Year's Eve 
      for luck; a centerpiece of 12 
round fruits for a year of sweet 
      fortune. When I was young, 
mother peeled the skins 
      of grapes, sliced them in half 
to pick out the little pips. 
      Which is not to say that this
should be filed under the heading 
      of useless labors: how are we to know 
it wasn't what saved us from untimely 
      choking deaths? Ubas, we called them; 
from the Spanish, tongue that lay
      underneath so many of the words 
we used. Rarely did we think 
      of what names we must have given 
things before Magellan's galleons 
      sailed into our waters, naming 
the world he found there--- ours--- 
      as though he were some kind of god 
stumbling on a new paradise. And we,
      the unintelligible, background marks
on landscape; bright clustered noise 
      overhead, birds with colors rarer than
jewels, their songs that could stun
      unworthy listeners into stone.  

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