Halving Papaya

by Allyson Whipple

The cleaver splits skin. I break
the fruit along its fault line, do not anticipate
dozens of black seeds slick
as eyes, at least twice
the size of roe, at least tenfold
the size of the pencil-point eggs embalmed
in my body, waiting for a chance
I forestall month after month. Folk medicine says
eating these seeds would destroy
an unwanted life. They buckle
under my teeth, little bubbles
of pepper, bitterness I do not expect
from such sweet flesh. I could
down them all. I could dry them,
grind them, season my food.
I could lay them to waste
down the drain. I could plant
them, condemn them to death
in a soil too hot and dry.

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