THE FEAST

My father is hosting the final picnic.
        He rolls a watermelon back and forth
on the slate table until he can steady it

and slice, each piece bleeding
        onto a large white plate. The coals turn
ash gray and continue to burn, with raw

meat slung on top of the grill, oozing
        blood red to clear. In the river bordering
the grove, a lone man paddles his arms,

stomach pressed to a blue surfboard.
        Black and white ripples
radiate from him while boats knock

against the pier. The children gather
        their Frisbees on the grass, their volleyballs
and badminton racquets, appearing

and disappearing in brightly
        colored shirts like distant bits
of confetti. Their voices rise and fall

as though under water. It is late.
        The sun shines, but not
for much longer. The golden hour

has begun. For a moment
        the moss-covered trees glow
lime green, frozen in their looming

heights. My father: white shirt, gray pants,
        silver wristwatch, glasses.
He always cut the watermelon.

The plates are ready,
        the food is hot, the watermelon cold
and seedless. And our lives,

for a moment, are an untouched
        meal: perishable, and delicious,
one we've barely begun to taste.


Dilruba (Ruba) Ahmed

(originally appeared in AGNI, Issue 85, May 2017)