The Refrain

Photo by Robbie Brindley

Ciara Cerrato is a writer and poet who received her bachelor’s in English from the University of Central Arkansas. She currently lives and works in central Arkansas, and she is a freelance writer and editor. She is at work on her first book of poetry.

This poem is the second in a three-part series featuring Ciara’s work.



A woman slices soft tomatoes in a burnt orange kitchen.
She faces narrow windows, the blinds pulled almost to the sill
so that yellowed patches of the sun perforate the floor.

With each slice, her blade thwacks the board, and the sound
is like a tired metronome metering out the silence.
Just as her daughter was taught, she scrapes the seeds aside,
and the slanted light glares up at her like a row of eyes.

And the music of her life carries on:
thwack, scrape, shuffle, rattle, repeat.

Returned from business, her husband had hurriedly
grabbed the cutlery in a shop near baggage claim.
There were always gifts.
They began with a promise and they lead to a cleaver.

He sharpens the blade for her occasionally, honing the edge
along an old diamond whetstone so she can make clean slices
gently, without smashing the tender red fruit entirely.

“Take your time. Find a rhythm. 

Slice it thin to get the most out of it,

and you must remove every bitter seed.”

It’s like a box step waltz, this perpetual motion:
The thwack of the blade, the scrape of the seeds,
the shuffle of slippers, the rattle of pills,
and the refrain.


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