My grandfather got up early to section grapefruit.
I know because I got up quietly to watch.
He was tall. His hairless shins stuck out
below his bathrobe, down to leather slippers.
The house was quiet, sun just up, ticking of
the grandfather clock tall in the corner.
The grapefruit were always sectioned just so,
nestled in clear nubbled bowls used
for nothing else, with half a maraschino
centered bleeding slowly into
soft pale triangles of fruit.
It was special grapefruit, Indian River,
not to be had back home.
Doves cooed outside and the last night-breeze
rustled the palms against the eaves.
He turned to see me, pale light flashing
off his glasses
I remember as I work my knife along the
membrane separating sections.
It's dawn. The doves and palms are far away.
I don't use cherries anymore.
The clock is digital
and no one is watching.
"Grapefruit" by Ted McMahon, from The Uses of Imperfection: Poems (Cat 'n' Dog Productions, 2003). © 2003 by Ted McMahon, reprinted with permission of the poet. Ted writes that "Grapefruit" first appeared in Seattle Review (Fall 1992-Spring 1993) and was also posted and read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer's Almanac.
Art credit: "Half Grapefruit with Cherry," oil painting by Terry Trambauer Norris. Reproduced by permission of the artist.