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I Cut Open a Papaya, My Husband Reads His UFO Journal
Jan Epton Seale



Seven months we have waited, looking into the garden
as this fruit becomes a world, at first a hard green egg,
then so slight a blush, we argue with our vision,
rely on yesterday's color, and in the final month,
wonder if it's deep gold or the sunset's bounce;
chant against the possum shinnying up the trunk,
the wasp finding entry, the grackle's stony stare. 

Quince, apricot, and finally, marigold: it's time. 

"I'm going to pick it," my husband says after supper,
a householder's evening chore more interesting than dishes.
He bolts out the door, twists the three-pound ellipsoid free.
I watch from the window. 

Now he sits in a room nearby, reading of grays, abductees.
I split the papaya with my sharpest knife,
the sound like my water breaking  with our first child. 
A galaxy of black planets rushes to the light,
a hundred or two shining ova with a flurry
of green impatient sprouts. I scoop the seeds in reverence,
save them on a plate. He wants to dry and plant them,
plant them all, row upon row.  Peeling,
I slice a wedge, bite the gold, lean to the sink,
the musky flesh in my mouth after all these months.
I take the other part to him. 

In another dimension, by lamplight, he raises his head,
opens his mouth. He samples, blinks up at me
from inner space.  Yes, he agrees, this melon planet
is unexplainable--from stick, sunlight, water, grace.
Back in the kitchen, I make conserve, stirring the pot
of saffron: papaya, pineapple, sugar, lemon.
I'm humming thanks to the woman far away
who shared this recipe; I'm barely contained
by the row of glittering jars with pretty labels.
I'm happy.

"Hmmm." I hear him sigh and shift,
likely off to the hunt, pursuing cigar-shaped airships,
enemies with slanted eyes, patterns in wheat.
Suddenly he's leaning in the doorway.  
"Listen to this," and he reads from outer space.
I stand listening, sucking my sticky fingers,
our marriage hovering, listening, marking us.
Published in The Yin of It, and Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge (Poetworks/Grayson Books,  2003). 
Used with permission of the author.




Jan Seale, the 2012 Texas Poet Laureate, lives seven miles from the Texas-Mexico border in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. She writes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her poems are collected in nine volumes: Bonds, Sharing the House, Believing is Seeing, The Yin of It, Valley Ark, The Wonder Is, Nape, Jan Seale: New and Selected Poems, and The Parkinson Poems. Jan believes poetry puts the shine and finish world of feeling and spirit. Learn more about her at



Post New Comment:
Oh, Jan...this is wonderful ....What a delight to see you two hovering over and finally cutting into this luscious melon...Sounds delicious...Gail
Posted 07/15/2014 10:12 AM
I need to go to the produce store to buy a papaya and to start my own universes! Delightful poetry!
Posted 07/15/2014 08:55 AM
"A galaxy of black planets" always my favourite part of cutting open a papaya. Thanks for the image.
Posted 07/15/2014 08:44 AM
That title is a beckoning finger. I really like this poem.
Posted 07/15/2014 08:41 AM
Glen Sorestad:
A wonderful poem, Jan, with succh a superb title!
Posted 07/15/2014 08:33 AM
Ross Kightly:
Apart from EVERYTHING else that is one Killer Title! Show me the human being who would not rush over shattered glass to read whatever follows that title and I'll call the undertaker!
Posted 07/15/2014 03:10 AM
'Seven miles from the border'; I wonder at the luscious layers of significance in the different faces of a papaya, and the overwhelming variety of taste that hovers at many borderlines in a poem encompassed by two seven-line stanzas. The poetry suggests Chris de Burgh's lyrics to me: 'There's no borderline'.
Posted 07/15/2014 03:05 AM

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