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).