4.09 / September 2009

Love Song for Grapefruit

listen to this poem

I’ve conquered the punishment of soap
in my mouth, sweet followed by bitter,
puckering. Grapefruit soap makes
me want to eat the fruit. So I do.

In my mouth, sweet followed by bitter,
the sliced open sun startles
me. I want to eat the fruit. So I do
stick my fingers in, lick off the juice.

The sliced open sun startles
like the first time I saw under my skin,
stuck my fingers in, licked off the juice.
I suck in my breath, gurgle, cackle,

like the first time I saw under my skin
puckering. Grapefruit soap makes
me suck in my breath, gurgle, cackle.
I’ve conquered the punishment of soap.

I’m Confused about My Chest

listen to this poem

I saw a robin in the park today.
It hopped and skipped and made

me wish my breasts were orange
as well—it seemed like fun, until

I thought about how my dad
used to say when I was young,

“Eat your greens. They’ll give you
hair on your chest.” And I would eat

them up and hope for hair
like his to grow on me. Then

only one breast grew; the other came
from surgery at sixteen, and the hair

my dad had promised arrived just
in time for hot flashes—this was not

what I had in mind. Now, looking
in the mirror before my shower,

I think about that robin in the park and make
my peace: Paleness suits you, breasts.

Let’s wish for nothing—or,
for once, to stay the same.


Katie Manning just completed her PhD in English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her writing has been published in Fiction Southeast, New Letters, and Poet Lore, among other journals and anthologies, and she recently received The Nassau Review Author Award for Poetry.