I learn the blueberries I am eating this morning were flown in from Chile. They have a dusting of white on them and are firm, some with little nubs of green where they’ve been picked by someone I will never meet.
Their origin is found on the container, but also in the article I have read about other fruits from far away coming in on plane or ship and then transported via truck, the trucks he told me that kept us in the state we were in—the shelves full of mixed greens and cascades of apples—here in the center of this country, far from the coasts. We relied, he said, on them, could not live long without them, with our brutal winters. No one freezes or cans food anymore, he said. No one prepares for what seems remote and indefinite.
There’s a map of the world hanging in one of the back halls leading to the stairwell I take most mornings to the classroom I teach in. On this day, I stop and locate Chile and then trace my finger from there to here, where I stand. I try and gauge the time it would take—just how long the berries sat packed—and question how they could ever
sustain their vitality and form.
Back when I was as young as my students, he would go away for the summers to work and just before leaving to return, call me. In those hours, I would imagine him crossing the state from one large body of water to another, one with tides and one with currents. Time slowed down as it did when I was a girl and my parents took me along on Sundays to visit relatives in neighboring towns. I would sit quietly on the couch and think I might die if we didn’t go soon.
After class I see a student in the café eating plain yogurt with blueberries out of a plastic cup. I wonder if she knows how far.
Once, I got out a map and laid it on the floor and thought, He is there now. Now, there.