The slick gush of you. The stain and stick of you. How you fill cheeks like the residue of a tongue bitten nearly in two. The way you linger in the air with the fleetest of flies no one can catch except with leftover wine rotting in wide-mouthed glasses along with the lead points of bodies I collect like coins
until the liquid chokes with them. This is about how I’ve loved you for so long I’ve grown weary of you, fragrant wild grenades percussing through the night onto the shards of the pool deck, pinging off drainpipes and catching in gutters, splattering the slats of the solar panels with such force that I sleep dreaming of ancestral dangers.
And all the abundance you bring, the family members who clamor for you and bring back breads and chutneys and salsas made too saccharine with you, dishes to spoil in the back of the refrigerator. And your pits that root themselves in oolite and silt from squirrel-gnawed fruit, thrusting up seedlings when no one is looking, that might or might not bear if allowed to grow, but will be
considered new varieties if they do, those genes throwbacks to every Asian, Latin, and Caribbean tree that contributed to their lineages. And those who will name you, guess again, rename you. And the food pantries that won’t take you even though you are fresh, unprocessed, because this is no longer how America embraces anything: in their colorful, foreign-born skins.
Jen Karetnick is the author of five full-length poetry collections, including Hunger Until It’s Pain (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming spring 2023), The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, forthcoming August 2020), and The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize. She is also the author of five poetry chapbooks, including The Crossing Over (March 2019), winner of the 2018 Split Rock Review Chapbook Competition. Co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day, Jen is currently a Deering Estate Artist-in-Residence. Find her at jkaretnick.com.
Header photo by Yaruniv Studio, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Jen Karetnick by Zoe Cross.