I am ten the first time Ma let me split
the skin of a cantaloupe without her.
My knee still bandaged & burning from
a fall I took on the playground that day.
While playing tag, a classmate pushes me
like she wants the ground to remember it.
I don’t push back. Tell my teacher instead
& declare I wish it was a half-day. When I
get home, I tell Ma I’m aching for sugar
& numbing. So she hands me a knife & I
lay the tough-skinned fruit on its side.
Cut the two shortest ends & watch them fall
like playing cards. I think back to the breaking.
Stand it upright to make it into a split-sun.
Ma offers to re-dress my wound in ointment.
I dig up & toss innards like they’re memories
I want to bury. There is no aloe vera here. Cut
until cantaloupe flesh resembles square-shaped
Lego bricks. Devour several slices before I
place the others to rest in our Tupperware.


My sisters & I climb the plastic-adorned
couch in our living room. Mountains
of clothes & blankets all over the rug
for extra cushion. Today we dive into an ocean—
bellies full of fruit blessings & minds still
on fire from a story Ma told us about a Black girl
in Harlem who could fly like a bird. We want
to turn into dolphins & fly. We know we can wish this.
Feet steadied, hands on each other’s shoulders, knees
bent for the journey. There’s nothing like the thirst
of Black girls who believe in their own dreams.
Cantaloupe juice can only quench so much. We fly
& dive into the water we built. Bellies pointed up
& down as we lie with bodies transformed into wind.

Nadia Alexis is a poet and photographer born to Haitian immigrants in Harlem, New York City. Her poetry appears in Mud Season Review, MQR: Mixtape, Indiana Review, the Texas Review, and others. A 2020 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest semifinalist and recipient of the 2019 honorable mention poetry prize for the Hurston/Wright College Writers Award, she has received fellowships from the Watering Hole and Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. She’s currently a creative writing PhD student at the University of Mississippi.