Walid was making a film about a particular
honeydew melon. This melon, he said,
pointing to the table littered with back issues
of The Economist, a Blackberry Pearl, assorted
suspiciously pigmented utensils, and the melon
which lolled back and forth as their knees hit the table.
Why this melon? Frank asked. He was curious.
He was over-caffeinated. And why a film? Surely
this has something to do with the fruit trade
outside Lanzhou, the nefarious laws imposed
upon the disenfranchised? No, Walid said.
Let me stop you right there. I mean this
particular melon; which bears the fruit of a
singular summer. With its case like the skull
of a human being. Handled as quickly
by the hands of the pickers and transporters
as by the hands of the grocers, then cradled home
up two flights of stairs by my mother, lighting
the back end of her recurring shoulder injury;
she, the first female underground boxer
out of Pennsylvania in the 1960’s. Wait, Frank said.
So this is a film about boxing? Barriers?
A blow-by-blow account of your mother’s rise
to the rings of New York City? The melon
as a symbol of motherly love, a warrior’s prowess?
The flesh of the fruit a symbol of memory,
of the toll the blows took over the years. How,
having forgotten the details of her past, she remains
a scooped out shell of her former self, until the seed
of familial love and artistic direction is planted by
your camera lens, and the world sees her as she was,
anew? Wow, Walid said. You’ve had a lot of coffee.
Please let me finish, Frank said. I want to understand this
particular melon, and perhaps a clerk, brunette,
late teens, holding it above her head, and calling
for a price check while the rest of the line
grows anxious and impatient. Holding it steadily
while your mother looks on, admiring her strength
and thinking, perhaps, that she is seeing the torch
being passed from one generation of boxers
to the next, as sentimental and distractedly triumphant
a moment as she has ever known in the ring,
spitting blood into her bucket, while the fat cats
in the front row spill vodka tonics on their leather shoes.
Then, Walid said, we will funnel the chords of a song
through the air between her missing teeth.
Something distinct, Frank said. Yes, Walid said,
something fresh off the heels of the blues.