In the watermelon fields of Kansas by Sarah A. Etlinger
--for Martin Quirk
the melons sleep like planets in the heavy morning. Sometimes you’d find half-eaten melons clinging to their vines, entrails spilled on the sandy soil, leaves green and oblivious as ever, still threading life into the empty wounds. Or a ragged white gash from a rough pocketknife shearing the vine into a phantom limb. A premature rescue by someone who hadn’t scanned the prairie’s prim horizon for the grey breath of storm, who hadn’t rushed out at the first sign to rescue their bulging, mottled bellies from piercing hail, from burning in the mouth of the sun. The heirloom watermelons—“Moon and Stars” for the yellow galaxy on their humped backs -- still sing on the tongue. Those who rescue are invisible. Even now, you hold one out in front of you as if to say here is the world made new and sweet
Sarah A. Etlinger (she/her) is an English professor who lives in Milwaukee, WI. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she's the author of 3 books. Current interests include cooking, baking, and spending time near Lake Michigan. Find her work and updates on Twitter (@drsaephd) or at www.sarahetlinger.com.