Poetry Corner

The watermelon

Illustration by Rosa Cole
When we were young they just went to waste, 
a bit too exotic for council-estate tastes.
From the tropics to the suburbs via Bookless & Co.
we loved lifting them up and letting them go,
smashing to the ground the sound made us smile,
ruby entrails smeared on faces TISWAS style.
Sitting on the doorstep in matching dungarees
soaring seventies sunshine, threading bracelets of seeds,
carefree in hula garlands we danced the back street,
strings snapping, seeds spilling beneath our bare feet. 

Our first meeting, full of mischief, aged three, 
was blowing water up a victim's nose at nursery
with melon-wide smile and adventurous talk.
Valentines were swapped annually with a SWALK -
from the boy-next-door with the bowl haircut.
Catchy-kissy - first kiss - was more nervous head-butt, 
Playground vows exchanged as part of a game,  
along with A-Team, Fall Guy, and kids from Fame.
Aping the shoulder-padded fights in Dynasty
we played out 'till our mams called us in for tea.

The decade shifted, we consumed melon, all types, 
mysterious was mundane thanks to supermarket might. 
Scooping out flesh, sticky-rimmed mouths and faces
as crucifixes on walls warned us to be chaste.
Snuggled on the settee for Dirty Dancing the movie
we were hypnotised by the snake hips of Swayze, 
your hungry eyes met mine, I carried the watermelon,
Apologising to me, embarrassed, I fancy honeydew, you said.
Despite our parents' dreams of being something other,
for me you were always more brother than lover. 

Finally you came out under rainbows in Castro
which I mocked as reinventing yourself in Frisco,
but under frozen vodka-melon at a 90s party
I realised...I'd always known...you preferred Johnny to Baby
and baby grew up; because it really didn't matter;
I'd been too bloody close to see the whole picture,
so you joked about the new neighbour shouting slurs
calling you, ya big fruit! We cried with laughter,
but deep down I knew your life would be harder;
although no-one could ever put you in a corner.   
Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

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