cantaloupe

Friday I sniffed it
in the grocery store, turned it
in my hands, looking
for bruises
in the rough, webbed rind.
My mother’s voice—the one
I carry always in my head—
pronounced it fine. Ripe,
but not too soft.

I bagged and bought it,
would have given it to you
for breakfast—this fruit
first grown in Cantalupo, not far
from Rome. I imagined you,
my sleepy emperor, coming
to the table in your towel toga,
digging into the luscious
orange flesh
with a golden spoon,

and afterwards,
reclining, your smile
satisfied,
imperial.

Now I open the trunk of my car
to find the cantaloupe
still there, flattened, sour,
having baked all weekend
in August’s oven.

Grieving is useless,
my mother would say,
Just get another.

But why am I so certain
that no other fruit
will ever be as sweet
as that—

the one
I would have cut in half,
scooped the seeds from,
that one I would have given you
on Saturday morning?

~ Lee Robinson, Hearsay.

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