Fall 2012, Volume 13

Poetry by Jarita Davis

Gathering Mangoes

There are no paths in that deep
green place. John guides our way
clearing an opening between trees
with a large, bent stick. Until we make it
to this side, it is all dust
and rocks and dry land. Here,
the ground opens up, turning itself
inside out, pushing its bright green
pulp high from the hard, broken rind.
We walk down the steep side
of the ledge. The slope
was cut into shelves supported
by rocky walls so all the water
rests here in the broad leaf
before running back to the ocean.
John looks biblical, the way
he points his walking stick
to clusters of mangoes
marked yellow with sun.
He sends Nelson up to shake them down.
The boy, all lean muscle and innocence,
youth still in his back and arms, climbs
into the mangoes. He spreads his legs and arms
in suspension and shakes the supporting
branches, daring them to break,
daring himself to shake harder.
The ripe mangoes tumble to the ground
their big, heavy weight thudding
around us. We scatter
across the rocks and broken sticks
to collect them, and it feels like Easter,
the warm, heavy eggs filling
the span of our palms. Each egg
tinted green, yellow, and red. Each
with one tiny spot sticky
from where it held the tree.
When our bags are full and while
it is still cooler than it will be,
and make our way back into the dust.
Behind us, everything, even the goat
tied to a dried shrub and gnawing
an old pit, is full of mangoes.




BIO: Jarita Davis is Cape Verdean and writes about Cape Verdean-American culture.  Her work has been published in Plainsongs, Crab Orchard Review, and Tuesday; An Art Project, among others.