by Zinta Aistars
I return from an author's reading panting.
Believing myself to be well fed
until I am given this food -
a smooth grape, shock of sprayed juice
between the clean snap of teeth,
a luscious tart, sugary sweet and sticky,
sour lemon slice forcing surprise
onto my lips like an unbidden kiss.
Suddenly dizzy with hunger.
Must eat, must bite
down hard on words,
sink teeth into the solid meat of consonants,
break open syllables like crisp seedpods,
peel off rinds to expose plump ripened vowels,
dripping with juice,
shucking shells of sentences I have cracked
over my shoulder,
and deboned paragraphs,
filleted then poached to flaky whiteness,
sucked clean ribs
exposed in neat rows
to the white sky of a page,
the rich and promising soil
of a single word.
Winner of First Prize, Kalamazoo Community Literary Awards 2000)