Praise cranberries as one tough fruit. Boil them up for a sauce. Their skins pop. The nub of the berry endures. Transform them into a smooth cylinder of jelly. The single berry vanishes. The acidic and astringent taste persist. Put them in the refrigerator after a feast with the other leftovers. Long after uneaten turkey decays, the cranberry is defiantly if sharply edible.
The great poet of the cranberry is Gertrude Stein (1874-1946). The verse "Cranberries" in Tender Buttons (1914) is as tough as its subject. Stein energetically explores the possibilities of transformations: cutting grass, silencing the noon, and murdering flies, taking the pesky insects from life to death. But, as I read the poem, the cranberry, even if it cooked, keeps on being a cranberry. The last lines, "Just as it is suffering, just as it is succeeded, just as it is moist so is there no countering."
A tough fruit, a tough poet....but each gives sweet pleasures if we pay tribute to their toughness.
To cranberries and to Stein: take this as a tribute.