By: Andrew Van Gorp 25 September, 2016. [Updated 14 May, 2017]


UPDATE: Sustain DuPage volunteers just learned that someone recorded the live reading of this poem on 11/22/16!  For your viewing pleasure:

Ode To Pumpkin: A Love Poem

Dear Pumpkin:

When was the last time I told you that I loved you?

Seeing you, I think: Wow. You are some *food* *security,* right. where. you. sit.

Like, DAMN.

Could the Creator really have allowed our ancestors to learn a skill like saving seed for the best qualities until we literally created foods like YOU, Pumpkin – who can last for more than two years without molding – never needing refrigeration – could you really, be more than a dream?

How great of a discovery – to save the seeds we love – each seed a silent nod that human hands around the world selected a fruit, vegetable, plant-body-part that held the secret for future harvest feasts – YES.

Pumpkin – you delight me with your bright colors, and your little sisters Squash and Gourd are just as pretty and unique.

You Pumpkin – are like we, Humans, because you – are an inventor of possibilities. 

You leave behind your body and create luffa sponges, and bird houses, and change bowls for our dressers.

You feed our bodies with good medicine.

But, these days, the sight of you makes me feel saudade

To see You, the Big Orange Beauty – Triumph of Generations – your generations – our generations – food to feed an entire Human family through the winter – the very sight of you, sitting on the doorsteps of all my neighbors – breaks my very heart.

The sight of you breaks my very heart because I think of the 16.4% of children in DuPage County  who don’t know if they’ll have dinner tonight. 

I know. I KNOW!

“Jack-O-Lanterns are for fun, for beauty!”

But I think, beauty belongs in a world where I can rest knowing my neighbors have dinner.

On an ethical level – I think that beauty for the sake of beauty at the cost of a rumbling stomach really sounds more like ugliness to me.

How could I in good conscience walk home from the train passing by turkey legs and cucumber salads left on doorsteps?

How could I ignore the pounds of food we leave on the eave of our threshold as if to say,

It’s Autumn!

Pumpkins are growing so we can cut faces into them.

Pumpkins are growing so we can have a decoration that proves that agriculture does still happen – somewhere – out there beyond my door – carried on by someone else – someone out there – I guess… out there… somewhere our suburban sprawl and overpopulation hasn’t taken away and covered the last of the soil for itself,


Pumpkins are growing so we can spray them with hairspray to keep away Squirrels living in nests among the boughs of our Neighbor-Trees. Squirrels who see the food we leave, and think – ‘Wow. Pumpkin! Survival through winter.”

How can we rationalize the wanton waste of our fleeting joy?

Dear Pumpkin: are you sad that we have forgotten that you taste delicious in soup with our good companions Rosemary and Cayenne? 

Do you still have lessons to teach us – the children of your Former Farmers? 

Perhaps, Pumpkin, somehow – you can teach us how to slow down? Please?

Can you remind us that we too were once rooted to the Earth as we grew slowly into form?

Can you remind us that like you – our stem ended at our belly and we were vine-fed nutrients originating in the soil,

and the rain,

and the sun?

Pumpkin- as we get your inner flesh on our forearm – as we pull your seeds free by the fistfull – can we learn again to laugh at our own wetness?

And Pumpkin, can you slow us down to a crawl so that we can escape the screens that call us to: * SAVE TIME! * SAVE EFFORT! * MAKE SURE IT LOOKS EERILY PERFECT! * BUY THE FACTORY-MADE PIE! *

Can you save us from the annual re-piphany that when we buy the pie instead of make the pie – we find our purchase has a compact and weirdly-even-thickness that sticks to the roof of our mouth, like food that was printed?

Can you save us from this plastic-contained, waif of your true excellence?

Pumpkin – can you reteach us the practice of marking the rhythm of the slow seasons by committing ourselves to prioritize spending lots of time, minutes upon minutes of glorious time, cooking with You?

Pumpkin – do you miss the damp smell of a root cellar or basement – nestled amongst your brethren – waiting for that door to open – so that the Human Family who keeps you going year after year can survive off of your sweet and giving walls?

Pumpkin- do you too miss our ancient relationship?

Do you miss how we used to spend time growing together in the field?

Do you miss hearing us mutter about our silly human worries as we weeded below your fanned leaves until the open air and beating sun carried away our stress and left us instead with the sound of your Bees on your blossoms and the Wind floating past both of our heads?

Do you miss watching our tension melt into a contemplative peace as we joined you in the fields?

I cannot speak for all of us Humans, Pumpkin, but I can say that I, indeed, miss you. 

How can I get others to love you again, like I love you now? 

I draw hope that we Humans, like you Pumpkins, rattle with seeds of memory. 

I laugh when Humans tell me they come from a long line of Farmers.

It’s like if you, Pumpkin, said,  “I come from a long line of Pumpkins.”

I Dream that one day, you will grow again near our homes, and you will plant your roots at our feet and in our hearts.

May your seeds never run out before we can remember how much we really need you.

Pumpkin –

May we never forget the gifts we can give each other if only we take the time to intertwine our vines. 

Sustain DuPage can’t operate without your support. Find out here all the ways you can involve yourself!

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