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Cutting pumpkins in Botswana
- Amanda Hunt

Kneeling tonight on the kitchen floor
attacking a stone-faced pumpkin
with a meat cleaver
I am reminded of a friend
who once visited Botswana
and found the people there
far wiser in the ways of gourds
which, ripening sooner in a warmer climate,
are softer and more yielding at harvest and,
should the skins prove stubborn,
have machetes more readily to hand

and how once, leaving a market,
he watched a woman walk
with slow unhurried grace
a pumpkin balanced on her head
barefoot on the red dust road
her small child following just behind
and when the boy tripped,
knelt and scooped him up,
not breaking stride,
and the pumpkin stayed in place
the whole time

and of another friend, a surgeon,
who would recite cautionary tales of
human versus pumpkin
a messy epidemiology of
injured limbs and severed digits;
he would not allow them in the house

and of my mother, whose tactic was to
hurl the pumpkin down the back porch steps
and more than once
resorted to the axe in the woodshed,
leaving the chopping block stained orange
wet macerated flesh
mashed in amidst the splinters

and I study the truculent Queensland Blue
which has foiled my efforts once more
rolling away to land right side up,
as they always do,
poised on a jaunty angle in the corner

and on the polished timber floor,
a new score:
Pumpkin, 1; Human, 0.


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