That year I’d begun to wonder how do we come
to an accurate knowledge of ourselves
my question to bear through life, unanswered.
Picking strawberries, I’m the fastest, frantic
to finish a row careless as in a race, always
to be the first, and careless, bruising fruit,
picking stems, leaves, coming to abhor the touch
of strawberries, how seeds are stippled
in the flesh, rough as a cat’s tongue and some
of the strawberries are weirdly shaped, greeny-
white and never to ripen, other strawberries
are soft-rotted from the inside, female fruit
leaking watery-runny red juice. Within hours,
a box can go bad. My grandfather hated straw-
berries, so perishable, not like apples, pears,
quince, cherries, a strawberry ripening
is a strawberry close to rot.

–Joyce Carol Oates

Beirut is heating up. In this hostile humidity, I’ve found that one of the best ways to cool down is to seek shade under a generous awning, and sip on a glass of fresh strawberry juice. This week-end, I tried the fresh strawberry juice at Food 101 in Hamra–and it was just the infusion of vitamin C and summer sweetness I was craving. As I savored each slow sip, I thought of a lovey piece by Joyce Carol Oates, called “Strawberries”–which you can read in full here.

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