The Season of Desert Melon


‘Today I found a lizard in the shower’ Max wrote. ‘Which is good news.’

‘Today I found a watermelon on my doorstep’ I replied. ‘Also good news.’

The season of melon in the desert is the season of gratifying specificity. The hummingbird regards the fruiting mesquite, the sleep-blue rosemary flowers fall. The water here is so far a subject of mystery and concern, the way that the composition of a body by water is the subject of mystery. It is unseen. 

This week the well-drillers arrived south of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to drill for water to mix concrete to erect a black border wall a black concrete wall made of the pure aquifer. 

This week Valerie and I walked under shocks of heat lightning to the corner store partitioned into Mexican candy and everything else. The Diario de El Paso headlines said about El Paso advisors against the wall, and about three young girls murdered in Juárez. Valerie bought drinking water in two gallon jugs, four bananas, and cream cheese. We walked back in the night which enclosed the heat which enclosed us.

This week Lauren said the summer was the cause for alarm. She said she didn’t have the grounding to report this relentless tragedy, and said the aquifers were low. We have the largest desalination plant second to Israel because when the water gets this low its brackish. We are drinking the old, encrusted sea. 

Apart from anything the means of delivery, they both said. The pipes are about to go and surely we’re also drinking the means of delivery, surely we’re also drinking the pipes.

It was in this time that the watermelon arrived on my doorstep.

Tell me about your umbilical cord, melon, your pipe. You, womb who so recently were the egg and your surely paw-handed leaves who were made by your water before you were made by your water.

Your heaviness is cause for laughter. I lug you with delight, with the thrill at the heaviness of water here where all is light. The blinking cool of the night, the air resting on my chest, it’s all light it holds no water.

When I get you inside I make my first slice right on the ceramic floor, water spills out. For all the seekers of water not seen in this seemingly extraterrestrial extreme, here you are. Here in your striped green arms you hold your buckets, you have made water into something exactly for us, without dispute or disappointment.

I applaud your specificity. The farmer Raul placed two stones on either side of your body so that you wouldn’t roll off the step. But that’s the farthest you would go. You’re not going all the way away as water tends to go, as far as your memory takes you, not before passing through me. 

Water in the end of August bombast of lightning storms and unobservable cruelties was the signal of those far things to which we may or may not lay claim— full lives, favorable deaths. But then the melon. The melon of the desert who in her specificity was already whole.