Aimee Nezhukumatathil
At the Pumpkin Festival, My Lips Burn Bright

     Boys in flannel line up to see who can throw

     them the farthest, sending them spinning through

     the air like suns too drunk from summer’s end.

     Some the size of a giant tortoiseshell mold into


the most wicked faces. Chinese believe this fruit

is the most lucky of all—so fertile and thumpy

with a satisfying knock on its belly to plim

pregnant women nicely round. Every year I beg


     my mother to plant a pumpkin so we can harvest

     it together. A giant birthday cake for the woman

     who was born the day before Halloween, who I

     once thought was a witch herself when she cut


my curfew in half with a wave of her thin hands.

Seed & gutrot // Stem & root. The salty crunch

of toasted seeds—the only protection my mouth

has against witches. No more pie or bread stolen.

Found In Volume 38, No. 05
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Aimee Nezhukumatathil
About the Author

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of At the Drive-In Volcano (Tupelo, 2007), winner of the Balcones Prize, and Miracle Fruit(Tupelo, 2003), winner of the ForeWord Magazine Poetry Book of the Year and the Global Filipino Literary Award. New poems appear in Antioch Review, FIELD, and Prairie Schooner. She is associate professor of English at SUNY-Fredonia where she was awarded a Chancellor’s Medal of Excellence.