Jul/Aug 2022  •   Poetry  •   Special Feature

A Soursop for Christina Rossetti

by Rekha Valliappan

Public Domain image

A Soursop for Christina Rossetti

(a parody on Tony Harrison's "A Kumquat for John Keats")

Come buy! Come buy! My go-to orchard fruit.
Not grapefruit, nor melons, nor quinces nor peaches;
Not berries, nor kumquats, nor tangerines, nor lychees;
for if she had known my fruity delight
that's not mulberries, nor cranberries,
nor red-cheeked strawberries—what a goblin
market of excitement they'd rate—a pawpaw
sized wonder shape juiced to inflate.
An older dame poet might have learnt how to choose
my sour-sweet nutrition twice the holistic booze
to fend off dark dreams; she's never tasted before.
'Tis my sugared soursop—none more fair
than a heart-shaped green fruit extraordinaire.

Whether taken as fresh creamy pulp on
banana, or sorbet, or smoothie, or
thick Bacchic fleshy top, stained red ruby;
nothing but fragrant soursops for a beauty,
aged gold honeyed fruit for Christina Rossetti.
'Nay her day is but resting on the rind
and the juice, the tart on the tongue, leading
to fitness and good health, no severe histories
repeat; of strange merchant goblin men
baiting fruity favors—pomegranates,
citrus, plums, and pears, brimming with fevers
of the heart and mind seeking adventures
bold. O chronicler of wholesome tastes!

I implore: This sugared sweet soursop,
by all the powers that be, of magic
and seasonal gardens dropping like rain
declare nature's immune booster, nature's
wonder cure, nature's natural wonder
emboldened to endure; when pureed to
ecstasy, sheer goodness to greet—this be the one
my glad spirit meets when I climb that tree.
Like a blind fruit bat lusting for jello juice
sweetened frutti flavors, tutti citrus is mine,
without the least fuss, none other will I pick
than my one Eastern soursop all weather adored.

Gorged on pawpaw consuming my life,
counting every gleaming dewy drop,
my senses here crash! Unknown to Rossetti
age and time bubble on, hopes, years, fears
sans sourness—But I am not sick!