Mango-Fish


I think of my father as I cut

the orange flesh of the mango from its dark green skin.

Recently my husband introduced me

to fresh mangos and their intoxicating sweetness.

He showed me the Guatemalan way to eat them;

simply biting the fruit directly from the peel.

But I really don’t care for food touching my cheeks when I eat,

so I lay a knife sideways, like my dad held his ivory-handled boning knife.

Using my fingertips to hold down the tip of the peel,

I skin the mango before I cut it into mouth-size pieces.

Each time I perform this mango ritual, I think

of my father fileting fresh-water pan fish.

Meticulously he took the day’s catch and cut

the white fish flesh from the silver skin.

His thick fingers carefully removing skeleton and bone

so none would get caught in his daughter’s throat.

Those hands, once muscled with love, have now slipped away:

the left crippled by a stroke, his right restless without a partner.

Looking at my own hands while cutting my mango-fish, I see traces of his

and hope mine can hold others as gently as he has embraced me.

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