Aracelis Girmay

Ode to the Watermelon

It is June.

At El TaContento near 17th,

the cook slices clean

through the belly of a watermelon,

                Sandía, día santo!

& honey bees

grown in glistening temples

dance away from their sugary hives,

ants, in lines,

beetles, toward your red,

(if you are east, they are going east)

over & over,

toward your worldly luscious,

blushed fruit freckled with seeds.


Roadside, my obtuse pleasure,

under strings of lights,

a printed skirt, in grocery barrels,

above park grasses on Sunday afternoon

to the moan & dolorous moan

of swings.


Ripe conjugationer of water & sun,

your opening calls

even the birds to land.

& in Palestine,

where it is a crime to wave

the flag of Palestine in Palestine,

watermelon halves are raised

against Israeli troops

for the red, black, white, green

of Palestine. Forever,


I love you your color hemmed

by rind. The blaring juke & wet of it.

Black seeds star red immense

as poppy fields,

white to outsing jasmine.

Again, all that green.


Sandía, día santo,

summer’s holy earthly,

bandera of the ground,

language of fields,

even under a blade you swing

your quiet scent

in the pendulum of any gale.

Men bow their heads, open-mouthed,

to coax the sugar

from beneath your workdress.
Women lift you

to their teeth.

Sandía, día santo,

yours is a sweetness

to outlast slaughter:

Tongues will lose themselves inside you,

scattering seeds. All over,

the land will hum

with your wild,

raucous blooming.



“Ode to the Watermelon” is from Teeth (Curbstone Press, 2007).