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Hurling a Durian

This is the fantasy fruit: it can awaken

desires lodged deep inside a person

but stuck, like an almond clogging

the windpipe. The smell of a durian

may erase a child’s immediate memories.

So I am addicted, of course. Not to eating

but to sniffing it like glue, my fingers probing

its dry, spiked surface until they bleed

and I eat. But the feast disappoints

me because its taste replaces the corpse

scent with something sweet and eggy,

a benign tang I flush down with wasabi.

For there is nothing a kid like me

can do except awaken to loss and wish

for a seven-piece suit of armor. The desire

always returns: durian as a weapon of truth.

Even if I don’t know how to pull a trigger

or whet a knife, it’s tempting to imagine

throwing a dangerous fruit at the head

of the person who failed you, who hurt you,

who, for all these years, has tried to break

you. But this desire is lodged deep

for a reason: the pull of forgiveness

like a hopeless gravity, and always, I try

to resist. So I do by taking a spoonful

to my lips, savoring the smear, the din

of my cleaver hacking the husk, the juice,

the sweat ripping open the rind.

from Mad Honey SymposiumFind more by Sally Wen Mao at the library

Copyright © 2014 Sally Wen Mao
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Poems Sally Wen Mao

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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