“My anger is like a peach,” he said. He was trying to show how metaphors could be anything. I thought it worked. I wrote it down in my red notebook.
In my other class, there was a long discussion about the difference between metaphor and simile as they relate to Prufrock. I could only think about his peaches. I wonder if he dared.
A few years ago my friend dressed up as J. Alfred Prufrock for Halloween. Her costume consisted of rolled khaki trousers and a peach. (I wonder where she found that in October.) She was annoyed that she had to tell everyone who she was—“At a writers’ party!” I don’t remember if she ate that peach. I do remember the main meal was spaghetti.
That party was held in a house in Chattanooga, in the basement. There was a big back yard where people drank and talked and sat in the darkness. Somewhere someone was smoking weed with a visiting writer.
Earlier that day, the writer had read a poem about his car accident a year ago, in Georgia, on the interstate. It had broken him pretty badly, and his wife, but somehow their child was unharmed. He said something about the peach pit being the one place Georgia held sacred. He said it was the place where all new things grow.
I can see how anger could be like a peach: its juice runs out of the mouth and down the chin, dropping onto the pants and staining them. In the same way, I can see how anger is like sex: they are both heightened states of emotional observation.
In Atlanta, there are something like five or ten Peachtree Streets. I’m not sure if they all connect at some point, but from what I could see, they would have to do some contorting to get to the same point. I like to think a giant peach tree grows there, like the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
I was walking down one of Atlanta’s Peachtrees with my girlfriend when a man in tight pants, a runner, jogged past us. We both agreed he had a marvelous ass. I was annoyed, however, when she confessed that she wished I had one like his. Later, we ate at a taqueria with peach-habanero salsa.
My mother would read to us as children. The first real books I remember, the first novels, are Island of the Blue Dolphins and James and the Giant Peach. I don’t remember Island of the Blue Dolphins as well, probably because no movie was made of it.
There’s an independent video rental store where I grew up called Popcorn Video, one of the only stores I went to in my hometown that wasn’t a chain. Every time we went, my sister would rent two movies: James and the Giant Peach and Home Alone 3.
I wasn’t allowed to stay home alone, or I don’t remember it, until I was fifteen. I built a potato cannon out of PVC pipe and a barbecue lighter. I would load a potato, spray hairspray into the barrel, and light it. Once, the cannon wouldn’t light. I looked down the barrel and pushed the trigger button to see if I could see a light. I forgot that I had already primed the barrel with hairspray. I singed my eyebrows and bangs.
In peach season, my father would bring home a bag of the freestones every week or so. He always got the cheap ones, so they were usually dry and pithy, with a stone that fell apart and nearly broke my tooth. I don’t eat them anymore when I go home.
My mother would always eat canned peaches with cottage cheese. For some reason I didn’t think this was common knowledge. I showed people how good it was when we went to a buffet: they said “I know.”
To be honest, I’m not even sure what a peach tree looks like. I do know what an orange tree looks like, from a backyard in Phoenix, and a fig tree, from a back yard in Chattanooga. I also know what a cherry tree looks like, or at least a type of them, from my own backyard at home, as well as mulberry and apple. If, for some reason, I find myself lost in a sinister Garden of Eden, I’ll at least know a few of the trees I can eat from.
I always heard growing up that the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was an apple. Maybe I’ll luck out: maybe it’ll be a peach.