From the Inside
by Courtney Putnam

I live in fruit, forced
to sleep where the heart's sucked
out, I'd prefer pumpkin entrails 
to this hollow-shanked shell. 
Peter, he guts pumpkins, swallows 
the cool, raw centers—the seeds and veins 
and blood orange sludge—leaving 
the shells intact like wanting 
bedroom walls.

I replace seeds and pits and pulp 
with my soft curves and oval whorls—
a disguise of something as sweet 
as fruit meat spread across his lips 
when he whispers, "You're juicy enough 
to eat, my sweet."

Last month, Peter obsessed 
with ripe, black cherries; he popped 
the pits with his tongue, 
scraped the purple-stained flesh 
with a pocket knife blade 
then drove me into each vacancy-
cherry by cherry by cherry 
biding to be eaten.

This time, next time, the time after next-
he will eat the center of a brown-hipped pear 
like a worm and lodge me inside, 
or carve a tomato without breaking 
the soft, soft skin and place me in.
He will watch me watch from the inside out.

Rinds, skin, hulls, husks, peels, 
orb-shaped homes hold me in 
like Mason jars, and when my pumpkin 
shell grows crows feet and pruned peaks,
stretch-mark lines and wrinkled seams,
Peter panics, plucks a melon from the vine,
where he keeps me very fine.

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Courtney Putnam earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Phoebe: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Feminist Scholarship, 4th Street, Moon Journal, and in the anthology Inhabiting the Body from Moon Journal Press. She is a visual artist, poet, and Reiki practitioner living in Seattle.