Monday, July 04, 2011

Ode to a Cantaloupe


Ode to a Cantaloupe

Ripe woman
so long in the sun,
skin thick, leathery, with veins
etched like filigree scars
of knowing,
one flat cheek
where you listened
to the earth,

I feel for you
among the rock hards,
fingertips perching, alert
on heads, searching
for you alone,
who have begun to return
inside to the waters
of yourself,
retreating slightly
at the meridians
that circle like rivers
to enter you.

With simple hope,
I carry you home
tucked in my elbow,

On the board
on the table,
at the horizon
of the knife, heavily,
with a groan,
you fall open, glistening —

Rippling sunrise of fruits!
from Michigan lakes
and soil,
pastel and vibrant orange
wet soft firmness,
mellow honey,
gentle watery

A good spoon
and I scoop
dripping seeds out
of your natural bowl
then slide into the easy
flesh, shining spoon
cradling a moon bite
to my
warm trembling
tongue, momentarily
of flavorless

But you are achingly yes
cool, tender,
a velvet miracle
of flesh,
and water,
part musk, part honey,
a quiet rising,
unearthed, clean
into sky,
morning sun
baptized into my happy,
new-day body.

A poem about something I love, humbly, in the tradition of Pablo Neruda, master of elementary odes.

Photo of cantaloupe shared via Creative Commons by John Bosley.



rosaria said...

I can appreciate this so much more as a mature woman myself, seeing these images as compliments to maturity, to ripeness.
Love, love, love the revelations found here.

Pablo would definitely approve.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Rosaria, from one mature woman to another, for finding these revelations in yourself.

If anything, I feel sensuality more deeply now than I ever did as a young woman.

Ginnie said...

Sensuous IS the word, Ruth. Pure sensuality.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Boots. Do you love cantaloupe as I do?

erin said...

yes, i agree, a wonderfully sensuous poem, and yet sadly, i have always been on the outside of liking cantaloupes. they are not my language.


i watched her hands precise and assured
cut the cantaloupe
i wondered at the inside of her mouth
and bucked at how it was she could be eager
for the taste, to me, of such fitful skank
it would be like eating skunk

and so it was at an early age
that i knew my mother and i
spoke different languages

while i, at 12, read the bible
in the afternoon light
of her borrowed bedroom window
knowing i'd never find god there
and she ironed, smoked and stilled at the table
i scoured the book in light
pausing only to look outside

i asked her then, she 42
and she froze above the question
like her hand above the cantaloupe
only she never moved any closer with her knife

she'd never thought
in all her years
to ask herself


Ruth said...


As such, as much, a sensual response, from the other side of the melon. Oh I love it.

You found your light, find it still, outside the window, inside the body, in the people who landscape around you, in skulls and other deep-soil things. Your revelation in this 'quickly' poem (oh, you!) is arresting, stunning, gentle and earthy all at once.

she'd never thought
in all her years
to ask herself

Thank you for the gift of your sight, words, and a different (from mine) but always resonant language. Wow.

The Solitary Walker said...

Very nice indeed. (In the tradition of Lawrence too - see his sensual poems on pomegranates, medlars, figs etc.)

Ruth said...

Robert, thanks for reading and nice response. Also thanks for the nudge toward Lawrence. I opened my Norton's anthology of modern poetry and read 'Medlars and Sorb-Apples' just now and feel happily (if morbidly) drenched with mystery.

Gayle Carline said...

Who knew a cantalope could bring such lush joy to my morning? Thank you, Ruth. It was scrumptious.

Ruth said...

Oh thanks, Gayle! And I wonder if you are one who enjoys the actual cantaloupe. ;)

The Bug said...

Well now I'm wishing we'd picked up a cantaloupe at the grocery store this morning. This was delicious!

California Girl said...

ahhhh, that was refreshing Ruth.

Happy 4th!

Pat said...

Sensual, beautiful, and mouth watering! I wish I had a cantaloupe RIGHT NOW!

Cait O'Connor said...

Everyone has said it but it is a very sensual poem.

hedgewitch said...

I was just reading some of Neruda's odes to everyday things the other day--onions, an artichoke, a large tuna(!)you did this one beautifully and with the same style and reverence. What is better than that bite? And the opening stanzas' comparisons to an old woman were extremely well-painted. I feel refreshed, and like I need to go directly to the produce section.

Old 333 said...

Well was that ever good! thanks for it! Perhaps the best description of fruit I have seen.

Terresa said...

Beautiful. Is this post a coincidence? Serendipity? An ode a la Neruda as well?? :)

Neruda is one of my favorites, as is cantaloupe. (I can't stand watermelon!)

Enjoy your 4th, Ruth!

Brendan said...

Neruda's an archangel of the present, lived, celebrated life. You do him great honor with this poem, that takes a rough-looking, proletarian fruit and cut it open to find so much sweet heaven here. My soul's mouth waters for a bite on this hot, hot summer afternoon. - Brendan

Friko said...

A delicious ode to a delicious fruit.
I see the juice dripping from your fingers, which you take to your mouth to lick.

An image which makes my taste buds tingle.

Unfortunately, the only fruits we get are 'hards' and flavourless.

Barb said...

I'm clapping for you and for Erin. The melon is metaphor and the photo is gorgeous.

freefalling said...

"with veins
etched like filigree scars"
That's EXACTLY what the skin is like.
I've always loved the skin of cantaloupes (or rockmelons as we called them in QLD).
When I'm at the market I love to pick them up and touch them and feel them and smell them.
And nothing beats an ice-cold rockmelon smoothie with a little bit of ice-cream.
I'm drooling now.
And I have to wait 6 months til I can eat one again!

Louise Gallagher said...

OOooohhhh. Pulpy pulsing sensuality oozing... this poem has it all!

and I had just cut into a perfectly ripened Canteloupe and was gushing over its perfection!

Thank you for putting my happiness into such amazing poetry.

Mark Kerstetter said...

I guiltily admit ignorance of Neruda, but this is a great poem ( I don't say that lightly) that reminds me a bit of Francis Ponge (one of my very favorites).

And the dialogue between you and Erin is a beautiful bonus.


Amy@Souldipper said...

Now that every sense has been awakened...! Many thanks.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Dana. The local melons are not ready here, but I still buy them at the store. We have some in Howell called 'Howell melons' that are quite large and always wondrous.

Ruth said...

Thanks, California Girl! I hope you had a fun 4th with your family.

Ruth said...

Pat! Get thee to the market! And thanks.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Cait. I'm afraid finding a perfect cantaloupe is a crap shoot, and when this sensuality happens, it is quite an event.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Hedgewitch. I love going back to his odes, and others of his poems, for the sensual pleasure of them. Thanks for finding something of that here.

Ruth said...

Oh Peter, thanks for that!

Ruth said...

Terresa, I was tickled to see your ode to the 4th of July, quite lovely it is, the world as fruit. Funny how our patriotic urges led us in Pablo's direction. I find that meaningful, actually. His is the kind of patriotism I have always admired.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Brendan. I wish you anything and everything to cool you in your too hot days. We have been having Florida-ish days here too.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Friko. I can't tell you the disappointment I feel when I have gone through these steps and find that the melon is flavorless. When we get a good one, I want to go back for ten more.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Barb. Oh Erin's response reveals her tremendous heart and sight. And she brings something out in me that does not exist without her. How interesting it is to think of the two sides of the melon. Thanks for reading the poem and the comments, so much.

Ruth said...

Letty, thank you. Sorry to make you drool for melons now, when you can't get them. We have a specific type of melon we call rock-something, or something-rock, I can't think of it now. Oh, Don says 'honey rock.' I have never tried a melon smoothie! But I remember my mom fixing a crescent of melon with a scoop of ice cream and loving it.

Ruth said...

Thanks so much, Louise. I call that synchronicity!

Ruth said...

Thanks a lot, Mark, and I don't take your praise lightly. And I am guilty of being ignorant of Ponge, though I know his name. Now we both have homework.

I am quite grateful for the gift of good, inspiring readers, like Erin, and you.

Ruth said...

Amy, so happy, thank you.

Shari Sunday said...

Beautiful, Ruth. Reminded me of the luscious scent of a ripe cantaloupe. I love melon and I will always think of your reference to the melon skin. I see veined hands. But I would rather have the complexion of the inside than the outside. Love to you.

Ruth said...

Oh thank you, Shari, for your kind words, and your love. I've missed you. Love to you too. Stay cool down there.

George said...

Fabulous, Ruth! Sensational! Wonderful! What else can I say? Certainly, the best ode of yours that I have read. I'm struck by the spiritual imagery and the deeper spiritual meaning. Thanks for this gift, which, for me, opens the shutters to a bright and gleaming day.

Ruth said...

I'm so glad, George! Thank you, immensely, for feeling layers in this piece, for understanding. Your response is a gift.

who said...

powerful poem Ruthi, all I can say is that I pray you really are the age you say you are. Because I already feel like I need to apologize to Don for where my mind went, which I will not be able to scrub clean if you weren't at least in your late twenties.

but fruit is a beautiful way to be poetic about ripe fruit. The ones that unnerve me are the words that write about a tragedy but because of the words used and the way they are strung together, I am left feeling guilty about the path my imagination walks as I read.

so it's refreshing to be led down that path to fruition as apposed to dry deserts and death. There is a place for beauty in all places that poetry enhances, however, when a poet is lost or disoriented it's from what was beautiful that a poet's passion poisons everything it touches and there is nothing beautiful when that happens because it is a wreckage that is unnecessary.

shouldn't happen.

nobody should be lost unless everyone is and some comments here should like they choose to be, lost.

I hope sincerely that it is just me who is lost and that many of you are really more buddy-buddy than it appears to be.

it's a beautiful poem, so there is something I am not understanding in the reactions, unless maybe some are trying to show me how joking around does not always appear that way.

Oliag said...

I have a love for Neruda's odes...and I think this is as good as any of those:) What beautiful skin and color and odor these fruits worthy of an ode...unless of course it is one of those flavorless wonders.

Your photos are stunning as well Ruth...Those cantaloupe colored skies and waters look good enough to eat:)

ds said...

Oh yes, sensual. Brilliant. A slice, a scoop and there is the melon lush--I could taste it.

And Erin's "quickly" Oh, my.

Ruth said...

Dusti, I discovered the sensuality of food late in life, from Nigella Lawson. :-)

Thank you for reading, and for your in depth response, which always means so much to me.

Ruth said...

Oh thank you, Oliag. You honor me with your comment.

I took these [sunset, not sunrise, I cheated] shots a couple of years ago in Holland, Michigan. I was amazed that I, and a long stream of cars was entering the state park beach at the end of day, to see the sun set.

Ruth said...

Thank you, DS, so much. And yes, Erin is a wonder.

Anonymous said...

wonderful poem here, in the veins of neruda's sensual poetry. the feeling that arises from fertility and the ripeness of a being is definitely catches the senses here.

LW said...

Geez Ruth!! you made me wanna be a cantaloupe til you brought out the knife. i don't even like cantaloupe, but i love how almost convinced me. the opening lines had me. LW

Susan said...

I'll never view a cantaloupe the same ever again. It makes me sorry that I deprived you of the pleasure of cutting into your own melon, but definitely not sorry for reading this wonderful ode to one of my favorite summertime fruits. I also feel that same same apprehension of "flavorless disappointment".