Special Guides » The Poetry Issue

Ode to a Pomegranate

by

cult2-1-e001b83ce73619d4.jpg

My finger circles the crown, traces its tight circumference,
red and round. I pluck it from the mound the grocer
has perfectly arranged and hear the question

I asked you that night, when we were just beginning
to trust each other: If I were a fruit, what would I be?
The Latin word for fruit is pmum

and some that read the Bible in Latin thought Eve
ate an apple. But eating a pomegranate
is so different, so daring, like smashing a box of jewels.

And Eve was like that. She split the whole
wildly vermillion world in a violent need
to know and to be known. I hold your answer

in my hand: You are striking. Tough to crack.
Worth every effort, you said. There's an art
to eating a pomegranate; cut away the crown

until you can see the chambers inside—six bedrooms
shining with ruby chandeliers. In a bowl of water
use your thumbs to tear the walls apart.

I wonder if you, when alive, ever ate
a pomegranate this way, and if you wanted—
the way Eve wanted—to be understood, to understand,

to be freed from your flesh like a hundred supple seeds.
But this is a supermarket, not a bedroom
and my cart is empty

and I am wavering on the scuffed linoleum
of the produce aisle, rubbing the skin of a pomegranate
as if it were your hand.