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
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?"
As a collective we celebrate poetry every week but birthdays are special as each year during March/April we come together to build a collaborative poem in one giant poetry celebration. This year, we asked contributing poets to send a line that included something about either food or birthdays or both, and to send the line 'blind' - that is, without seeing any other contributions. As our most excellent sub-hub editor Michelle Elvy asked, "How to fit blue cake with a clarinetist's curls, or fairy bread with the explosion of candles? Four vignettes fired together to form one whole that includes a birth and a light, a cake and a secret, a moment and a memory, anticipation and celebration."
I was born the day my mother stopped being pregnant
a full-baked warm wetness taking its first breath
flame flickering, a miniature torch; a moth fluttering
against the pane, the porch. She held: a curved moon-nail,
thistle-like lock, darkened milk; and the clarinetist curled
slow circles around the moon
Visit the TP hub to read Three plus one: four poems for a birthday - guaranteed to surprise and delight you!
Extra cause for celebration: Tuesday Poem has had 335, 130 page views since its inception (on Mary McCallum's blog, O Audacious Book) in April 2010 with 16, 280 page views on the hub this past month. Contributing poets hail from New Zealand, the US, UK, Australia, Italy and Lesotho with visitors to the blog from places as far flung as the United States, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, India, Indonesia and Russia.
Happy Birthday Tuesday Poem! And a heartfelt 'yes' and 'thank you' to Mary, Michelle, TP poets and readers and writers of poetry everywhere.