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Grace


The carabao arrived on our street bearing the world,
pulling a wooden cart hill-high with watermelons.
Its handler, a man the rich color of coffee, tugged

at the driving line, a rope tied through the septum
circumnavigating master and beast. Seated beside
the man was his son, a mocha version of himself.

As I was, paler than my mestizo father, who met
the melon sellers with our neighbors, lured by cool
promise of relief from the tropic's audacious heat.

Outer gentleman, watermelon lover, my father
scanned the stacked pyramid, held up a dull fruit,
palmed the creamy, yellow underbelly, weighted it

cupped in his all-knowing, all-punishing hands.
Next, a gentle knock, like he'd do before entering
their bedroom restless past midnight. His knuckles

bounced off the bell-domed curve, he listened, eyes
closed, and, as he is dead now, for years, he longed
for that sonorous sound echoing inside the dense

watery ripeness. I watched him then, as I always did,
man of eternal theater, of elegant fingers, this Lazarus
figment memory I call poetry, my father full of grace.


Joseph O. Legaspi

New England Review

Volume 37, Number 4 / 2016


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