Tuesday, October 29, 2013

TUESDAY POEM | Meditation on a Grapefruit by Craig Arnold

To wake when all is possible
before the agitations of the day
have gripped you
                To come to the kitchen
and peel a little basketball
for breakfast
            To tear the husk
like cotton padding      a cloud of oil
misting out of its pinprick pores
clean and sharp as pepper
                          To ease
each pale pink section out of its case
so carefully      without breaking
a single pearly cell
                  To slide each piece
into a cold blue china bowl
the juice pooling      until the whole
fruit is divided from its skin
and only then to eat
               so sweet
                        a discipline
precisely pointless      a devout
involvement of the hands and senses
a pause   a little emptiness
each year harder to live within
each year harder to live without.
Craig Arnold, 1967–2009

Photograph: Kerstin Rodgers aka MsMarmitelover


As an echo to Craig Arnold's Meditation on a Grapefruit, with its invitation - as I read it - to consider the sacred in the mundane details of our daily lives, I'm posting a poem I wrote for my son, Daniel, when he was a wee lad. . . During my pregnancy with Daniel, I had a craving for any and all things citrus. He was born, it seemed, with a beyond-his-tender-years predisposition for ruby grapefruit. (I'd devoured them by the bushel when he was in utero. Bless him. Daniel is now 26, living and working in Wellington; all three of my children are living in the same city at the moment, which is wonderful. I'm immersed in the studio these days, preparing - amongst other things -  for two (imminent) group shows. Just as soon as work for these is complete, I'll be flying up to the N. Island to share the Wellington spring and enjoy an unhurried, uncluttered week with them. . . Can you believe we're already on the edge of November?)

                   for Daniel

                    He has two wishes for his sixth
                    birthday; a pocket of ruby grapefruit
                    and a citrus knife with a bend in it.

          It is the Fast of Ramadan  - the twenty-eight day
          in - and the weather shows no consideration.
          Flies and an irreverent heat
          nudge Mr. Salie the fruit seller
          and his carthorse up the street.

          The children are waiting. They know
          he will come. He will spoil them
          with a fistful of pomegranate, a slice of ice
          green melon. Upside down they wait
          dangling limbs and rinds of chatter
          from the purple crown of a jacaranda
          tree. They swing from a sandpit sky
          scuffed toes bare, swishing through
          a thick mirage of air.

          Up at the gate, in the postbox shade
          beach buckets brim with the horse's drink.

         Ramadan. And today is my boy's
         sixth birthday. He drops to the ground
         with a ripe fruit sound, runs
         pelter, pelter down the street.
         There's a horse, a cart and an old man
         to meet.

         Of course he's remembered. He whistles
         and grins, heaves the grapefruit down.
         Next week - they agree - when the Fast
         is complete, they will sit on the pavement
         enjoy a pink feast.

        "Why, Mr Salie?" I hear my son speak.
        "Why do they smell so wet
         and so deep?"

         Claire Beynon  

This week's editor on the Tuesday Poem hub is Seattle-based poet and artist, T. Clear
with Hey Columbus!
by Thomas Hubbard.

T. writes,"A mixed-blood, of (probably) Cherokee, Miami, Irish and English ancestry, the American poet Thomas Hubbard grew up among factory workers in the 1950's. A teacher of writing and other subjects, he has worked also as a carpenter, blues musician and freelance writer. He won the Seattle's Grand Slam in 1995, and since has written three chapbooks, Nail and Other Hardworking Poems, Junkyard Dogz, and Injunz." Great stuff.

Please click on the quill.

*All this talk about grapefruit makes me want to bake these --- http://www.dessertnowdinnerlater.com/2012/02/ruby-red-grapefruit-bars.html


  1. What a pink and delicious citrussy feast your post is Claire. I love it. I have never been much of a grapefruit eater but a neighbour left a bag on her fence for people to take, so I did. Might have one this morning. Who could resist after reading your post!

    1. Hi Mary -- what a generous neighbour you have. Did you have one? I wish we could grow grapefruit - any citrus, mind - down here ; ) xo

    2. I have a new respect for pink grapefruit now. The meditation is great ...such a wonderful comment on the mornings beginnings
      a new contract with the universe each day.
      And the one for your son too...the simple pleasures of life ...very uplifting.

  2. We are fortunate in that grapefruit are readily available in South Africa and I have half a one almost every day for breakfast. What a lovely poem Claire - I might just print it out and re-read it over and over while enjoying my pink feast! xx

    1. HI Jane! how is it I've only just seen this message from you now, months after you posted it? Apologies! And yes, you are very fortunate to have ready access to ruby grapefruit in SA! I hope you are well and having one for breakfast this morning! xoxo