"What Light: This Week's Poem," sponsored by Magers and Quinn Booksellers, brings you a poem every week by a Minnesota poet, selected by a panel of writers and publishers. Look for our anthology, “What Light,” at Magers and Quinn in Uptown or on line.
By Kathryn Kysar
July 23, 2007
Kathryn Kysar


The Fruit

“Juardo said she remembers growing up believing
that women got pregnant by simply sitting next to a man..”

Minneapolis Star-Tribune ,Sunday, June 19, 2005 section B8

Unlike the virgin, there was

no annunciation, no angel

came unto me with a halo

of light and a thin, graceful

finger pointing at my flat belly.

I thought a woman could get pregnant

just sitting next to a man. I avoided

my teasing uncle’s laps, stayed safe

in my circle of girls on the dusty

barrio playground.

How did it get inside me?

A message from the desert hare,

the whisper of the aloes, the scratch

of the cactus against the wind,

the trail of the turtle through

the sand, grunt of the desert

peccary? Did God whisper

his will inside me?

Was it the pit of peach

I accidentally swallowed? The apple

seed that innocently slid down my throat?

Un huevo fertilized by some cock? The bull’s

testicles served at my cousin’s wedding?

El beso bestowed upon me by the priest?

A cockroach crawled inside me?

I whisper with my friend Maria.

We cannot ask the sisters at the convent,

and our mothers turn their heads in silence,

arms grinding corn, kneading dough

for tortillas, rubbing twisted clothes

up and down corrugated washboards.

Was it a bird bringing my wish for a child,

or is this the fate of Eve

like the monthly visitation? I am alone

in my inquiries. My stomach grows

round, hard, not like a rock, but a ball, a piñata,

a soft paper skin filled with small gifts.


“The Fruit” was conceived at the Anderson Center in Red Wing. I was having my morning cup of tea and came across an article about a new program at Planned Parenthood to help curb teen pregnancies in the Latino community by educating the teens’ mothers, who lacked basic knowledge about the female body. The poem wonders what questions a woman would create in the absence of this basic truth. By using the tradition of the contemporary dramatic monologue, my persona poems move beyond my experience into the larger world to give voice to the unheard and to comment on social inequities and injustices.


Kathryn Kysar’s book of poetry is entitled Dark Lake. Her poems have been heard on “A Writer's Almanac” and published in many literary magazines, including Great River Review, Midland Review, Mizna, Painted Bride Quarterly, and The Talking Stick. A winner of the Lake Superior Writers and SASE poetry contests, Kysar has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Norcroft, The Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, and Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts. She teaches at the Loft and Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Minneapolis.


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