Farzana Marie

Melon Camping

When the watermelon flowers open, farmers know

it’s time to move to the fields, time to sleep close to the fruit,

sweetening in its final umbilical dreams.


The strained backs and aching arms of a day’s harvest

drain into evening stretched in a chaila hut,

rinds gently strewn around a family’s feet.


A jerib of land in Jowzjan might yield five hundred

green and yellow globes, and melon sellers will come north

from Kabul to fill their trucks.


Babur wept in exile at the muskmelon’s memory—

while a poet in Sultan Mahmud’s court sang of its topaz hue,

its taste of honey.


And these rows of rounded shells still tell so many stories:

with their veneer of mottled bright mustard, smooth mellow green,

dark skin veined with rivers of light,


shagreen leathery sheathes reciting birth

stories stemming from hard or soft seeds, battle

stories of skirmishes with the Baluchistan melon fly.


The proverb says you can’t hold two watermelons in one hand,

but how many tastes can the tongue’s memory hold? How much space

in a country’s heart for all the colors growing in its fertile ground?

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