IT’S SUMMER AND
I am picking at the skin of a bruised yellow mango
like a scavenger—cool, smooth, rugged between my
palms. I sit at the brink of past and future except
there is no present when the sky hums like a parched fly,
beating remorse down like vaguely familiar rain.
When my fingers caress the mango’s faint wrinkles,
I feel my grandmother’s face fold into naked laughter.
The sun is ruthless—makes us turn around so we face
our shadows, our pasts stored back in tempered winter.
There is no going back because it’s summer and
I am trapped inside a bruised yellow mango,
thinking about all the ways Beijing can burn from inside
out and still water our mouths with the sour taste of
fermented milk and ancestral blood. When I pull the mango
to my face so we are flesh to flesh, I breathe in its
familiar flavor—seal it in like a summer foregone.
So it’s summer and my limbs are heavy with the
weight of another dewy morning. It’s summer and
the mango is ripened, its skin blooming to spoil.