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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. 

 

And now. 

 

And

 

now.

 

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.

Kayla King

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