While we honor those fallen in service for Memorial Day, we also welcome the arrival of summer as May fades into June. And what could be a better harbinger of the season than that juiciest of fruits, the watermelon?
On the fruit stand.
We eat the smile
And spit out the teeth.”
Well put, Charles Simic. In four lines, the Yugoslavian-born poet manages to comment on the nature of human existence–the constant struggle of creation and destruction–as well as make your mouth water. Don’t be fooled by the poem’s simplistic appearance; each line contains multitudes.
Simic was also no stranger to warfare. He suffered a difficult childhood during World War II in Belgrade and, after emigrating to the U.S. in 1954, was drafted into the Army at the age of 23. He has since published several books of poetry and translated the poems of others in five different languages. Since he didn’t learn English until the age of 15, he was “especially touched and honored” to be selected as the American Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry in 2007.
As the season heats up, come cool off with Simic’s short and sweet poem, “Watermelons,” now fully annotated on Rap Genius.