Pleasure, Pride & Prejudice

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Being out here in all this heat is making me crave watermelon.

And like most things felt thru this craving comes with its own memories.

One summer I was sent to stay with some distant relatives in Opelousas Louisiana.

I wasn’t ready.

Like city folk need some education on the conTREE before we go and I wasn’t given that.

They sit five year olds on their lap and let them drive down dirt roads with ditches there. My cousins were so proud that they managed to hide the belt the adults used for disciplining them in the woodpile out back but I knew they were short sighted and would be fucked by winter.

They played some pretty twisted pranks on me that landed me on the receiving end of a fly swatter so I kept that knowledge to myself.

Anyway the power went out for three days and they had a watermelon patch so for three days we ate nothing but WATERMELON and government cheese because they weren’t about to open the deep freezer or buy more groceries until the power came back.

Watermelon for breakfast and watermelon by candlelight for dinner.

It would be ten years before I would let another piece of watermelon pass through my lips and then it was only in secret. Always away from non-Black gaze.

I’d see it at picnics and my mouth would water but I’d check the room and avoid it because I’d be damned if someone was gonna reduce me to a stereotype. A grinning distorted face of teeth and wild hair.

But I craved it
Like the cool juice and the feel of the flesh giving way.
I loved how we looked eating it.
The deep red with black seeds against dark brown skin
I enjoyed how it opened.
Split down the middle so crisp and so clean.

Staring at it on the table and not touching it felt like a sin.

And it was.
Because yielding to my (justified) fear of the white gaze was violence against my own pleasure and against my ancestors that grew this plant in Africa with pride. Me cutting myself off from it was cutting myself off from them and those glorious county cousins who knew resilience and resolve like breathing.

I eat it now
Whenever I can get it
I don’t care who is watching

It tastes sweet,
It tastes like a memory I’ve forgotten or a home I’ve never known
It tastes of sugar
and sometimes it tastes of blood

#watermelon
#memories
#reclaiming

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