That morning in spring I’d thought
I was at peace. To think of you and walk
past without pain. This evening the moon
rose above the treeline. I stepped into
the garden – sharp, clean air. Autumn.
The same moon, but changed. Light
gives rise to shadow. Inside the house
the lamps burned bright. I crossed
the mirror and saw all my selves – I am
meant to hold their gaze unflinchingly.
The pomelo is not a grapefruit.
My father tells me of the cashier
who did not know this. He unbags
his prize, smells it – ripe, sharp –
and hands it to me. It is heavy
in my palm, which means the fruit
is juicy. My father watches me
take the knife to the pomelo.
This is one of his lessons.
Decide where pith meets flesh.
Cut the top off. Make eight
evenly-spaced incisions all around
the curve. Drop the knife.
With your thumb, press firmly
into the pith, and prise it
from the flesh. Repeat.
Raw globe of naked fruit.
Crescent segments. Pinch at
the membrane, peel it apart.
Teardrop pearls, citrus heart.
Wrap whole sweet potatoes,
skin on, in foil. Place among
the embers of coals – long after
the chicken wings and satay
have run out: the tender, orange
flesh of the kumera – steaming
in the night air, smoky skin
peeled off in strips. One winter,
in Kunming, ascending the path
to the Dragon’s Gate, a woman
standing watch over an oil drum.
Scent of sweet potatoes cooking –
men devouring its meat by the roadside.
In the war it was all that would grow
in the gardens, fertilised by shit.
I ask my mother for rice porridge
boiled with kumera. This thin gruel:
the bright, cubed gifts of our survival.
image credit: Christopher Phillips