Still Life of a Grapefruit You'll Never Get Around to Framing
poetry by Kayla King
Still Life of a Grapefruit You’ll Never Get Around to Framing
She’s lived with you since that summer.
Even now, in muscle memory as you slice
the grapefruit. Two halves. Two plates.
One small spoon, one bigger. Sugar to share.
You dine only with the ghost of her.
And it’s not because she found sanctuary
in motherhood, but because the choice
was culled without compromise.
Think back to the day she told you
of the growing moon in her womb.
You wouldn’t let her throw salt
over her shoulder when it spilled
down the sink and onto the floor.
You felt the abrasion for days
on bare feet until they were worn
smooth again; too much a reminder
of newborn skin. But together you mapped
a way to the unmooring of unborn.
She painted the circular shape as she ate,
craving turned to obsession throughout the months.
Prepare the grapefruit tomorrow and tomorrow
and yesterday in reverse. Sink fingers into flesh,
digging deeper to find some early remembering
before the mangling managed to make you
meek. Citrus scent epistolized itself over fingers,
in hair, between lips. And the shapes she’d make
to form nonsense and rhyme were all too chimerical
when spoken betwixt the close of knees.
You would not dissect her then, but you told her
about the cow lung in science class
when you were too young to see beauty in carnage.
Maybe she wouldn’t understand anyway,
running a finger around the edge of an empty
grapefruit, to lick sour before sweetness
still sticking to the spoon.
But you explained again. The straw was meant to bridge
the place between life and death. Breathe out to balloon
the lung to purpose, long past the point
of empty. Yet you feared the metallic taste of blood,
like old coins worth nothing
more than memory. But you will not breathe in.
Exhalation clouds the kitchen window,
but don’t write her name in frost. She left in winter.
Remember snow isn’t like silk. The way it stamps
the soul to silence carries too much cargo in a breath
beaten from the borrowed babeldom beyond
the haunting of her. Even now, her scent
remains floral, nectar sweet before ribs cleaved
to create her in someone else’s image.
Try to name it, this feeling, but it’s not there,
because she’s gone.
Kayla King is a graduate of the Mountainview MFA. She is the author of These Are the Women We Write About, a micro-collection of poetry published by The Poetry Annals. Kayla's fiction and poetry has been published by or is forthcoming from Firewords Magazine, Sobotka Literary Magazine, Fearsome Critters, Barren Magazine, and Dear Movies Zine among others. You can follow Kayla’s writing journey over at her website: kaylakingbooks.com or her twitterings @KaylaMKing.