honeyed centers

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The Mango
By Mary Oliver

One evening

I met the mango.

At first there were four or five of them

in a bowl.

They looked like stones you find

in the rivers of Pennsylvania

when the waters are low.

That size, and almost round.

Mossy green.

But this was a rich house, and clever too.

After salmon and salads,

mangoes for everyone appeared on blue plates,

each one cut in half and scored

and shoved forward from its rind, like an orange flower,

cubist and juicy.

When I began to eat

things happened.

All through the sweetness I heard voices,

men and women talking about something—

another country, and trouble.

It wasn’t my language, but I understood enough.

Jungles, and death. The ships

leaving the harbors, their holds

filled with mangoes.

Children, brushing the flies away

from their hot faces

as they worked in the fields.

Men, and guns.

The voices all ran together

so that I tasted them in the taste of the mango,

a sharp gravel in the flesh.

Later, in the kitchen, I saw the stones

like torn-out tongues

embedded in the honeyed centers.

They were talking among themselves—

family news,

a few lines of a song

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