Monday, December 20, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Claire Beynon


for Daniel

He has two wishes for his sixth

birthday; a pocket of ruby grapefruit

and a citrus knife with a bend in it.

It is the Fast of Ramadhan - the twenty-eighth day in -

and the weather shows no consideration.

Flies and an irreverent heat nudge Mr Sahlie

the fruit seller and his cart horse up the street.

The children are waiting. They know he will come.

He’ll spoil them with a fistful of pomegranate, a slice

of ice green melon. Upside down they wait, dangling

limbs and rinds of chatter from the purple crown

of a jacaranda tree. They swing from a sandpit sky,

scuffed toes bare, swishing through a thick mirage

of air. Up at the gate, in the post-box shade,

beach buckets brim with the horse’s drink.

Ramadhan. And today is the boy’s sixth birthday.

He drops to the ground with a ripe fruit sound

runs pelter, pelter down the street. There’s a horse,

a cart, an old man to meet (of course he’s remembered);

he whistles and grins, heaves the grapefruit down.

Next week, they agree, when the Fast is complete,

they’ll sit on the pavement, enjoy a pink feast.

“Mr. Sahlie?” I hear my boy speak.

“Why do these smell so wet

and so deep?”

CB 1993


Claire Beynon is a New Zealand writer and artist. Her first collection of poems - Open Book - Poetry and Images - was published by Steele Roberts Ltd (NZ) in 2007. When she isn't painting, her passions include Antarctica, walking along Dunedin's harbour edge, a cappella singing, gardening and paper-boat folding. . .


Somewhere in my travels in the blogosphere this past year, I happened upon Claire Beynon's blog Icelines, struck up a delightful friendship with this amazingly talented & energetic poet/artist, and from there connections with an entirely new group of international poets emerged through the Tuesday Poem blog. The New Zealand writer Mary McCallum, our tireless moderator, suggested a pairing of the thirty-or-so poets for this week's entry where we each post a poem by the other, and while the pairing appears to have been decided alphabetically, I couldn't have been more tickled to discover that I was paired with Claire. Getting a comment from Claire on my blog is always a gift -- thoughtful, insightful, loving. How she finds the time to comment with such presence is a mystery to me; I barely seem to be able to keep up with the few blogs I follow on a regular basis. But there is no question: my life is richer for this connection, and I am in awe of the community we've built here as well as the possibilities for community.

Cheers and the best holiday wishes to all the Tuesday Poem editors, readers, fellow bloggers!


  1. luckily i have a bowl of red grapefruits on my kitchen counter, or i'd be off to the market, lickety-split!
    lovely--and such a heartfelt commentary, T.
    xo to both of you!

  2. Thank you for posting Claire's poem, it is stunning. It reminds me of my own childhood - the children dangling from the purple crown of a jacaranda tree - could be me or my sisters. Gorgeous evocation of the senses!

  3. Dear Helen, Susan & Elizabeth - thank you for your comments; ) I must agree with my son Daniel (now 23!) - there is nothing quite like a ruby grapefruit. The odd thing is, when I was pregnant with him I craved citrus fruit - especially grapefruit ;). Rubies are still his favourite fruit. A JOY-FILLED CHRISTMAS to you all. Claire.

  4. T., you're the best - thanks ++ for your generous intro. and for hosting this poem on your fabulous blog. I confess that when I first met you out here in the blogosphere, I was all admiration and awe. I held you up as a role model when I first started 'running into' US poets and bloggers and appreciated the ethos of your blog from my best read. My life is richer for having met you and, too, the very fine community out here. Have a wonderful Christmas - Love, Claire so

  5. Dear T., I've enjoyed your blog so very much and getting to know you little by little. Wishing all good things for you and your family in 2011, best, Melissa

  6. susan, eat one for me. I love them but I'm not allowed any for medical reasons, alas. Boo hoo! I guess I'll just enjoy myself a red grapefruit (Texas Ruby Red is my fav) vicariously!

  7. Elizabeth, I too love the evocative nature of this poem, and those last lines really stopped me mid-sentence and made me think a bit. I'm transported to the other side of the planet where the weather is balmy and "flies and an irreverant heat" is the order of the day.

  8. Vespersparrow, your comment made my day. All the best, always, to you! xo

  9. A gorgeous post. I was all -a-rush at Xmas time and didn't pause to comment. Hope you had a lovely Christmas T.