If they liked mangos, we'd have none,
mama says. We move yard to yard.
We squat and bend to pick up fruit.
She slides her full hand deep into the sack
to keep the fruit from bruising. I see a curtain
move in the house and wish for better clothes.
My dress has holes -- too small to see,
mama says. But even a needle does nothing
to fabric this thin. The threads I've sewn
hang over holes like a weak bridge.
The sun is a torch on my burnt ear tips;
it won't let up. I am dreaming of yellow
meat, sweet threads sewing my tongue quiet.
I know how to make one piece of toast last,
not to complain when my back throbs.
My hands slip over the smooth mango skin.
The air is an oven and won't let up --
not even for two hungry women
calculating how long this fruit will last.
The Cities Where I Meet You
Let it be Miami, Baltimore, New York.
Let fruits of the Osage orange tree crack.
Do you smell their acrid perfume soiling air?
Let wind shovel the clouds aside
until they grey the west with rain.
Let it be the city of love, of heartache,
of longing. Let rain pelt me.
Let sidewalks buckle under you,
And I will ask what is dying like?
Let me introduce this husband
I love. Let me show you this son
who is not to be. At night you're here;
the shadows move in the corners,
and I believe in them like a god.
This is my hand touching your ghostly body.
In the ash pile, blue-tinged butterflies.
Rolled in your sleeve, Lucky Strikes-
what's left, they say, of sudden sorrows.
Blue-winged creatures alight on dead embers,
a timber pile where a house stood.
and today, I'll be that house, bent, burnt.
Your biceps, vague bulge in a sleeve,
will be what I remember. How
you replaced the blown tire, how
we ended up lost on a West Virginia road.
Lonely little road. Sound: Nothing, then
the jack cracked as it turned, and back to nothing.
Pity the house and its former occupants
the same way I pity my neighbor today
after seeing his threadbare boxers hanging outside.
I will drink secrets under the table. In one, your child
is a whisper, faint bone, white wisp, no louder than
tires on wet asphalt. I will leave you. Am thinking when.