Today’s poem is “Watermelon” by Susan Deborah (Sam) King. She is the author of five full length collections of poetry and one chap book, including Bog Orchids, about her summer home on Great Cranberry Island, and One-Breasted Woman, about her experience with breast cancer.
She writes, “…one of our neighbors on Great Cranberry Island, Lyndon Bunker, was dying in his 50's of a lung disease and I wanted to reach out to him. He, a life time native of the island, could be a bit intimidating to me as a woman summer resident, but I was not deterred. The whole island was feeling sad that this darn disease was dampening his naturally outsized vitality. I wanted to pay him tribute and celebrate that. On the day I brought the watermelon, for those moments, I really felt we made a connection, one that is not easy to make between two so different.”
by Susan Deborah King
There being not much of later
to enjoy it in, he suggested to me,
down-island neighbor, we cut it open
right now, the “personal-sized” melon
I brought, since he told me
I might as well take back home
the rhubarb pie I made for him in the hospital
because he preferred his fruit plain.
He could be plain in his speaking too!
Was it just the emotion of the moment
or was this the sweetest, juiciest, most rubiate
fruit a tooth ever sank into, bright
in the mouth as the July day outside
his shut in, TV-in-the-background house,
next to which sat his big red truck
with his late wife’s name, same as his boat’s,
emblazoned on the hood? Next to that
rose a yellow, cross-hatched
squared off mountain of idle,
due to his illness, traps. He was a strapping
loose-jointed man, a hunter, a kidder, skipper
of any room he sauntered through.
When I got up to leave, he couldn’t rise,
oxygen tubes pinched into his nostrils.
He took my hand—a surprise—looked
into my eyes and couldn’t find the bottom.
in memory of Lyn Colby
Poem copyright © 2010 Susan Deborah King. Reprinted from Bog Orchids, Island Institute Press, 2010, by permission of Susan Deborah King.