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Danielle Sellers-lII




In Key West, before my father left, he taught me

the proper way to use a knife, to peel a mango.

First, slice a circle where it hooked to the tree.

Then guide the blade against the fat of your thumb

the way you might the zipper on a long dress.

The skin should fall away in curls. Suck it.


In summer, my mother’s glossy pastel kitchen

filled with seeds drying on her counters,

the black BBs of papaya, melon, sugar apple,

the mangoes’ white oblong slugs.

My father owned a nursery. With good dirt

and water he made a living, like magic.


He’s dead, and I’m far from the island that grew me.

Still, there’s almost nothing better than

holding a mango’s wet heft with two hands,

burying my face in, coming away with the sweet

that dissolves fast as cotton candy,

the strings that floss my teeth.


In childhood, I wore a towel with a neck hole

because mango stains more than any food.

I reveled in the stain, the yellow prize,

and the brief moments of my father’s joy.

Nineteen when I committed his body to clay

in that Tennessee town he spent years wanting out of.


For thirteen summers I’ve wondered what to do

with the seeds drying like hairy white skulls on the sink

now that my father is dead, now that I live too far

from the limerock ground that lets a mango thrive.

Without giving up everything I own,

this the only way home.