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