On the sidewalk, a man and a woman,
familiar like lovers, like swimmers, like soldiers
on the same squad, sliced open watermelons
with precise, lazy motion. I bought three pieces,
one melon, wrapped in Cantonese newsprint,
and cradled it home, a raw, sweet baby.
Four gnomes guard my stairs,
their uniforms newly made in faded colors:
the one who smiles, the one who smokes,
the twitchy one, the broad faced man.
Sometimes when I sneak back late at night
the guardhouse stands empty, saying
"you deserve no shelter here."
That midnight, the twitchy man,
eyeballing like he needed a fix,
like he yearned for something necessary
kicked over his chair when I came to our door.
I waved him back and shoved
a wet third of watermelon into his booth.
His mouth shone: a harvest moon.
You would have thought he waited all his night long
for one such gift.
I said to him, eat.
Love came planning to stay.
Wen brings me a mango, green.
It's like a hand grenade, hard to the touch,
smelling of nothing so much as the plastic bag
in which she fetched it, and now,
with forklift greasy hand
she hacks it with a cleaver.
I have tasted mangos,
ripe to bursting, skin slipping off,
sun mottling into red,
as warm as eggs.
Wen piles chunks on cleaver's blade
Green mango will rot my gut,
ruin my sleep.
Draw your finger down
the skin of a ripe mango.
The mango bleeds at ragged edges
and juice kisses your finger tip.
Too soon, too young, too green.
"We couldn't afford mangos in Fujian.
Now I buy them all the time."
Wen tells me, eat.
Two weeks gone, too soon, too young,
to make a memory. Didn't she come
planning to stay? An expectation still.
I fetch fruit, pink fragrant flesh,
tonight's haul, best on our street.
Perfume fainter than white on paper.
Rind thick as rhinoceros. Stab it
a thousand times. You will have
water on your hands.
The watchman frowns.
"Not so red," he says.
"Not so red as before."
Eat, you twitchy bastard, eat.
Eat like it's the best food
you'll ever taste on earth:
sweet, necessary, impossible.
Shove your face into it.