A Pumpkin At New Year’s

By Sandra McPherson

Heads were rolling down the highway in high slat trucks.
I knew it was time to buy you and found you,
The last sphere unscarred and undistorted in the store,
Big as my own head.

It was time too to leave you uncut and full-featured,
Like the grandpa of twenty-five pumpkins in my past,
Khrushchev-cheeked and dwelling on yourself,
Great knee of my childhood.

I plainly thought you would rot.
I remembered the fetor of other pumpkins,
Their blue populations coming out of hiding as if at the end
Of some apocalypse.

I devoted a day to reading up on minor cucurbits:
I learned your dozen names in African
And came home ready to raise or raze you,
Positive of change.

But so far—eternity. I think I would not like
Eternity, after I had used my senses up,
As I’ve tried with you—fingertips dragging over your world
Pole to pole

Till they go dead like explorers, nostril cilia
Detecting your fragrance more delicate than they—
And my patience. It’s Christmas, it’s a new year
And I hear

Of a family who’s kept you for four …
You endure like matter manufactured
And indeed your stem seems punched into your orange gathers
Like a button in a mattress.

Shall I give you a room or a shrine? And shall I
Purchase you a mate and family,
When ours is so inadequate, fixed upon your window
Deathbed as we are,

Centered upon a time and birth, new holiday, new friends,
New pumpkins, celebrating when all
That has failed us has passed away.
You have not failed.

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