Jul 04
poem, nonfiction challenge: Watermelon

My Livelihood Explained in Terms of Watermelon, Skipping, Frogs, Pretending, and Feathers

Ⅰ.      My mother wonders why I don’t like watermelon. Why I don’t like red lips smacking, spitting out the seed and sucking down to the rind. They are too watery for me. I want something substantial. Something real. Something I can leap to and grasp. I don’t care for a melon I can rip apart with my bare hands. She should feed me poetry instead. Lyrical longing, paper pans, red ripe suns flavored with salt from the Atlantic. I would gobble it down and beg for more. 

Ⅱ.     My siblings always seem feather light. If you try to keep them grounded they just float away. They act like the world exists for them. My brother and sister are dancing after dark. They are fireflies kept in jars that bang against the walls until they inevitably escape. If I were to write about them, the words would probably shake, shout, bicker and laugh themselves right off the page. 

Ⅲ.     I’ve always liked to skip. Since my birth I’ve been skipping: 
         crying 
         lollipops 
         timeout chairs 
         locked rooms 
         swearing 
         letting the grown-ups do all the work. 

         My coming of age was more of a coming to realize. Everyone came to realize that I am a tree not a sprout. I am the sky not the stars. A little skipping doesn’t matter does it? I have already lived lifetimes, watched empires rise and fall, listened to my records and my radio. So what are a few kisses lost, a little less holding, a little less laughter? Does it really matter whether I play an adult or a child in the musical of my life? After all, as I've already established, my soul isn’t a feather. It is clay and marble and stone. I am the Mona Lisa, not the Pearl Earring Girl.

Ⅳ.     I like to pretend I’m in love. That I have someone who lies next to me while the grass tickles my feet and kisses me until I am breathless. Until I forget my own name. Our love feels like a dream. It tastes like cotton candy and dopamine. He smiles like the sun and when night comes we chase a comet all over town. Our laughter never stops, it just bounces back and forth, mirrored in each other's faces. And I recite poetry to the gait of his breathing. And we are happy. I am happy. 

V.     I always hear frogs but can never find them. They croak from the dark underbrush like a siren song, but I never see them. They’re a person I can’t quite place. A familiar taste from a dish I’ve eaten long ago. In the stream behind my house they age. I view them there as tadpoles. Adolescents with long limbs, wide eyes, and quick tempers. Though soon enough, they discover nature's secrets. Their innocence flung far away upstream. A frog learns to hide. To be heard but never seen. To let the heat tremble under the weight of their song. To let the breeze catch it and loft away. Flying into my ears. Violently echoing while playing ping pong inside my head until I give into the need. I search. Searching, but never found.