podbrandy (podbrandy) wrote,

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Title: Migration: Mangoes

The suitcase full of mangoes walked across the border before my mother could explain. Words ready in her fist, in her pocket, with a crisp ten-dollar bill, about how the two dozen mangoes must have been placed, unbeknownst to her, in her locked suitcase by some stranger, a humanitarian who passionately believed that all departing overseas Vietnamese should be sent back to exile with a taste of home. Smiles and last resorts delivered after quizzical glances toward the unmistakable over-ripe sweetness, cloying senses sharpened to sniff out trespassers in a country keen on purity and containment, my mother pleading that her innocence was bigger than the custom guy’s imagination—

“I no smell nothing.”
We still don’t know what happened between their pause at the border

and when the suitcase full of mangoes walked in the door before my mother could finish heaving their weight into our kitchen. The only thing that we left at home could think of—to explain the overwhelming olfactory presence of the legion of slightly wounded mangoes, nestled among balled-up socks, panties and padded bras under two layers of cable-knit turtleneck sweaters never worn in the thickness of Viet Nam weather, these mangoes smuggled into our home, halves sliced open, flesh exposed to our timid spoons, ready to eat, all that juice running down our arms, off our elbows, thick droplets gluing our bare feet to the linoleum—we could only think of how my mother’s power of persuasion was really mystical, hypnotic, something passed on and spun from folktales from her rural fishing village—the sparseness of her words maybe sweet enough,

sweet enough with the mangoes and their precious failure at being contained.

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