Poetry / September 2014 (Issue 25)

Mango Trees

by Christian Benitez

Sunset mangoes
hang perpetually, the naked
boughs arching
like a mother’s hand.

It was 1972, we were grateful for
the mango trees withstood a Pacific
storm, named after gold in native tongue.

The temple of a bark gently
now leans sideways. But still
a living alive, among its leaves
the golden hearts.


In the city square, men
push wooden carts with more than
ten kilos of mangoes, yellow-
green. These are the sour kind,
I can tell. By their skin,
there are open wounds, juice
drips out like tears — what is wrong

here is the wood
of the cart: not even close
to the real bark.


The wood is not popular.

Unlike narra, it is a secret:
soft hardwood, shaping
under a carver’s hand, telling of
curves and lines, yet all
the same vulnerable to green
fungi embedding themselves
on bark. But know it can last
standing for three centuries.


Picture this: not a picture of a mango tree
but an illusory collective of snapshots —

Roots: gnarled over ground over
time. Trunks: hidden beneath the bark
rough, wisdom. (If you slice through
cross-sections: rings telling
age.) Boughs: curved stationary
grace. Then leaves: sharp, stark
green and, look, eventually


First, the fruit cut into three: two
cheeks and a center with the seed.

(The child shyly cups in his delight
the almost two halves, consumed
by the sweetness he consumes.)

And there remains the center slice:
untouched, the meat, the seed, the tree.


Inside the grocery hang mangoes
from their trees, their arms white,
cold, metallic.

The trees stand in a row, their hooks
holding all the mangoes
in packets, sweet as ever,
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