How to Eat a Mango

I.
Do not eat candy or drink coffee beforehand,
as it will ruin the fruit’s sweetness.

II.
Choose a mango the color of Bolivia’s flag.
Wait. Wait until you feel the flesh beneath the skin
yield to your fingers. You will want it too early.

III.
Take a sharp knife and the smooth bamboo cutting board.
Scrub your hands clean.

IV.
Tilt the mango on its end, and slice straight down,
slightly off center. Marvel at the gold marrow within.
Cradle this delicately in your palm like a treasure.
Follow the curves when carving.

V.
Bite down, slowly, and notice the flavor of tangy sunshine.
Let the juice run sweet, let it pool in your hands.
Scrape the fruit from its peel with your incisors.

VI.
Do not think of chlorinated pesticides.

VII.
Do not think of a Jaliscan boy’s sweat falling.

VIII.
Do not think of crates upon crates,
of rats and flies and filthy hands.

IX.
Do not think of ships and smoke.

X.
Do not ruin the taste.

Rainy Day Rememberings

The day wears its gray shroud protectively, keeping the clouds tucked in close and sending roaring gales through the alder in the front yard. I’ve just showered. On the walk home from campus, the rain soaked my pants until denim melded to my skin and my socks oozed with every step. Our neighborhood smelled clean. I burst through my back door in a fit of chills and irritation.

~

A month ago I was in California. The temperature climbed up into the mid nineties every afternoon, and we stayed inside where it was cool, basking in the breeze of an electric fan. Now indoors is where I go to warm up beneath a blanket. A month ago, the grass was knee-high and cracked golden from perpetual sun. Lizards were more common than squirrels, darting from the dust path into the refuge of grapevines when my footfalls interrupted their sunbathing.

~

I found a baby rattlesnake. Marcus was unhappy because that meant he’d have to kill it, but Pierre volunteered. He took a picture of the snake with his phone first. The shovel that I’d been moving garden soil with was used. Pierre advanced on the snake; it seemed uncertain and terrified, tearing along the planting bed edge and rearing up to expose its slender rope of a body. Then a swift thump against the wood. I didn’t want to look. The rattlesnake’s head snapped on the ground, feet from its convulsing body. Marcus held it up to examine the underdeveloped rattle, and dark blood was trickling out where its head had been severed off. My face was wet. Pierre hooked an arm around my shoulders and tried to pull me close. I’m sorry, he said.