The Quandary Poem by Peter Bolton

The Quandary

There was a boy who lived in the city,
His name was Millet.
His mother often shopped in the market,
From whence she would bring home a large green fruit,
She named it a quandary.
Shaped it was like a lamp bulb,
It looked unripe,
Yet its taste was sweet and delicious.
Millet often asked his mother whence these quandaries came;
Which land grew them?
His mother, whose name was Maize, did not know.
She invented a story that they were grown by a beautiful sorceress,
In her garden on Mount Perplexity.
Millet could not locate this in his atlas.

Time went by.
Maize brought other fruit and the quandary was forgotten.
Except that Millet had secreted a specimen in his chest of drawers,
Where it ripened and dried to a gourd-like husk.
When Millet was almost a man, he had, one night, a dream.
He dreamed of poison creeping into that garden,
The vines that produced the fruit were twisted and writhing,
Collapsed into withered waste.
A girl appeared, wringing her hands.
In her face Millet saw truth and beauty,
His heart was filled with longing.

Millet asked Maize after the quandary.
Whether or not they were to found in the market.
His mother reported that they were no longer on sale.
Millet remained insistent and she made enquiries of the stallholders.
‘Ah! ’ they told her. ‘The supplier of that fruit is in receivership.’
This made Millet sad.
What was there that he could do?
He dug into his drawers and retrieved the long forgotten relic.
The dry fruit rattled.
When Millet had cut into that shell with his knife he discovered that the seed shone true like emeralds.
Clearly the original plants were lost;
Otherwise would not the receiver have marketed them?
He therefore sealed them carefully and took them to the post office.
The man at the counter laughed.
‘Mount Perplexity? ’ he said ‘Do you suppose that to be an address? ’
‘I have paid for the stamp, ’ replied Millet and he departed.

Several months later the quandaries were again to be found on the market stalls.
Their colour was no longer pure, but striped with pink.
Although its flavour was still fine, Millet was not content.
It did not please him to think of a maiden in the hands of a receiver,
Who only had finance in mind.
Who was looking after her?
He decided that he must see to that himself.
He therefore wrote to announce his arrival.
His pack was on his back.
His letter fell into the box and he would follow wherever it led.

Thanks to Alice, Rowan has located Esme, the girl he ‘invented’. This poem announces his intention to visit her.
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