Sweet Dish

Three women making fruit salad

drop the chopped fruit

into a large bowl,

which they will later top up

with condensed milk and ice-cream.

Curious, the boy goes in to watch.

How easily and deftly

apples, bananas, peaches, pears, and papayas--

are skinned and diced,

plopping softly into the inviting vessel.

What remain now are the oranges.

After peeling them, each segment

is separated carefully, seeds removed

then uncovered individually,

so as not to damage the delicate fruit.

When the skin is pulled back,

the reddish-pink flesh,

honeycombed with juice,

emerges in tiny scoops.

The boy is just six,

but as he watches the operation

with strange fascination,

it suggests forbidden sights

which he will spy only as an adult.

 

Suddenly he says,

"Such patient work it is

to gain unharmed the hidden

core of this common fruit;

visible only when carefully peeled,

like a tender bud still concealed,

it is both sweet and tart to taste.…”

His first poem?!

 

The women eye at each other, embarrassed,

Blushing, then smiling, one of them

feeds him naked orange bits,

one by one, putting her fingers in his mouth,

until the sap, sweet and sharp,

dribbles down his sated lips and tongue—

 

and out he darts from that clammy room….

Back to Selected Poems from Partial Disclosure

 
  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape