by Leah Bobet
About the pomegranate I must say nothing, for its story is something of a mystery. — Pausanias
The dark could last a thousand years; the winter
longer. Don't say that you don't thirst.
You found them by the riverside. They were
not rubies, but they shone: like blood on rock,
or cities burning, or a marriage bed.
You picked them up. They bruised; soft like girl's hands
or o'erproud hearts. His eyes are swallowing
the sun. It's cold outside. The dark could last
a thousand years. Don't say that you don't thirst.
(And O, do not be cold, he says; taste of
my fruit, my vegetable, my apple-tree love.)
The spring sun shone. He called you jewel of winter.
Your breath froze as he led you deeply down.
His eyes have swallowed up the sun; they shine
with torchlight, though they are not rubies, and
the sun is gone; the fields are cold and burnt.
The passers-by ghost thin across the bridge:
It is up to you, they say. It's on you.
And O, do not be cold, he says; the dark
could last a thousand years. The wolf will eat
the sun. His speech is comely, and his lips
are stained like thread of scarlet, sweet with juice.
His lips are bruised red-purple like your hands,
Like overproud hearts, with the weight of a bushel,
a wine-barrel, a harvest of tales
where she tastes, she smiles, she takes his hand
and drinks forgetting of the sunlit lands.
And with all that to eat, to drink, to think
— how can you not eat the pomegranate?
Leah Bobet's short fiction has appeared most recently in On Spec, Realms of Fantasy, and Clockwork Phoenix 2, and has been reprinted in several Year's Best anthologies; she is also the editor and publisher of Ideomancer Speculative Fiction. She is a fan of urban gardening, public space activism, all things 1920s, knitting, silent film, hockey, and fabulous hats, and her first novel will be published by Arthur A. Levine Books in Spring 2012.
When asked of what poem the word "cherry" immediately makes her think, she replied, "it makes me think of Wallace Stevens's 'Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird' — it's the haiku structure, and the trees."
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