When I was young my mother convinced me if I ate the black seeds of a watermelon, one would grow, like a child, in my stomach; my belly would balloon, vines crawling up my esophagus, bursting from my mouth. This is when I began calling my body a garden.
I ate seed after seed, eventually learning I was not as fertile as I had hoped, my insides crumbling soil, something nothing can take root in — what comes out is never a miracle.
I have heard giving birth is the most intimate experience, that a mother is a sail, her child the strongest gust of wind. Or maybe the mother is a boat, her child a well-protected passenger. But if the human body is a vessel — mine is a shipwreck.
Once a month my mother says the ocean inside her is making her seasick, but my gut is dry, cracked riverbed. She doesn’t understand how powerless this makes me feel — I am a pool the children refuse to swim in. Something must be wrong with my body if nobody wants to live here. I am a boat with no passengers, but I could carry so much weight if I had to. I have room for so many watermelons.
Imagine me in a hospital bed, gasping for breath, my gown drenched in sweat and afterbirth. Imagine a bright, smiling watermelon in my arms, eyes big and blue like her mother’s. Imagine my eyes, gushing faucets, my body finally coming to fruition. Imagine a baby bassinet bobbing in the harbor. Did you know if you put a watermelon in water, it will not sink? Did you know if you put a watermelon in me, I would guard it with my life? I could be a good mother if I ever had the chance. [End Page 16]
Sometimes I walk up and down the maternity aisle, envisioning elastic around my waist, wishing my skin could stretch to cover another. There are incredible things my body will never do. If I went to the doctor for an ultrasound, the gel a puddle on my belly, they would shoot me looks, call me crazy, but would find a stomach full of seeds. [End Page 17]
Mason Nunemaker holds a BA in English from the University of Minnesota and plans to pursue an MFA in creative writing in the near future. His work has appeared in Ivory Tower Arts and Literary Magazine, A Quiet Courage, Goliath Magazine, and The Miscreant and on the Indiefeed Performance Poetry Podcast. In addition to representing the University of Minnesota at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, he has been a featured performer in venues across the Twin Cities. Upon graduation, Mason moved to Seattle, Washington, where he currently lives, works, writes, and performs.