I remember it as odd-shaped, potbellied—
a seedless weight we had lugged
in his backpack from the Stop-n-Shop.
Though it was no graceful task for ten-year-olds,
we split it on the damp cellar floor anyway,
leveraging the sly, curved blade through
the waxy rind. Jesse’s mother appeared—
at first a silhouette behind the laundry line
hung from wash sink to wall—to take
the knife, just before it would have
taken his thumb. We would never
forgive her for deferring our curiosities:
how such a thing could forgo what it grew
from. Or how without seed, it seemed
it could not grow again. And likewise
how later she would never forgive her son,
who once, with the disorienting bravado
that darkness sometimes brings, tried
to make it across the tracks before the train.
Josh Baugher’s work has recently appeared in the Spoon River Poetry Review, Phoebe, Salt Hill, and So to Speak. He is a graduate of the MFA program at George Mason University, and he currently works for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. About his poem “The Watermelon”: it attempts to recompose a memory I have of carving a watermelon with a friend in his basement, where the low-hanging laundry often fashioned a separate and private room for us. It was mere illusion, though, as his mother kept a close watch on us, for good reason.