Where Grapefruit Hold Sway

Where else but in poetry can a grapefruit hold court, however briefly, over your attention.? In Christian Wiman’s He Held Radical Light, the author brings the point home well enough thanks to a poem by the late Craig Arnold. The poem raises a grapefruit—yes, a grapefruit—to art form.

Reading the neat little details in this poem should inspire you to raise your own humble wonder (be it citrus or any other object, man- or God-made) to a higher understanding. All you need do is spend some time with it. Look at it more closely. Listen a spell. And see this as being very much like that.

Yeah. That’s it. Simple.

If you hadn’t heard of Arnold before, it’s because he has but two works of poetry to his credit. His book Shells was selected winner of the 1998 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition by some poet or other named. W.S. Merwin. And Wiman thinks Arnold’s sophomore effort, Made Flesh, published a whopping 10 years later.

Let’s join him for a breakfast of literal and figurative delight, shall we?


Meditation on a Grapefruit
by Craig Arnold
To wake when all is possible
before the agitations of the day
have gripped you
                    To come to the kitchen
and peel a little basketball
for breakfast
              To tear the husk
like cotton padding        a cloud of oil
misting out of its pinprick pores
clean and sharp as pepper
                             To ease
each pale pink section out of its case
so carefully       without breaking
a single pearly cell
                    To slide each piece
into a cold blue china bowl
the juice pooling       until the whole
fruit is divided from its skin
and only then to eat
                  so sweet
                            a discipline
precisely pointless       a devout
involvement of the hands and senses
a pause     a little emptiness
each year harder to live within
each year harder to live without