Piles of Mangoes

By Kathleen Lewis

At the buffet in the hotel on Varadero Beach the fruits were cut and piled onto platters less neatly than they would be in America. There were small, dark-green melons quartered to reveal pink flesh and white seeds. Jagged triangles of juicy pineapple still bore their thorny sheaths. The guavas' gelatinous dark seeds looked like gobs of fish eggs, and the mangoes were unpeeled, sliced into shards. I started to turn away, but changed my mind and filled a small white dish with the mangoes. As I walked back to my table, I thought about Carolyn Forché's prose poem, The Colonel, the part where some of the dried human ears that the dictator has collected are turned up and some down. Then I thought about Castro and flipped all of the mango slices up, so that the flesh of the fruit was facing me.

It looked as if I had set pieces of sunset on the dish. The fruit was so ripe, maybe a little overripe, a brilliant yellow-pink-orange all its own. I lifted one of the shards to my mouth, scraped the flesh from the thick skin with my teeth, and devoured the morsel. And it was luscious. Full of complex flavor. Full of a nuanced sweetness, sunlight, Cuba.

Later we traveled the road to Hemingway's home. Along the route were groves of mangoes and here and there, lone men standing beside the road selling the fruit. They'd probably sneaked through the trees to gather the mangoes that had fallen, and then piled them into cairns by the road, the men and mangoes baking in the summer sun. I wanted to ask the bus driver to stop and let me buy one. I wanted to hold it in my palm like a warm egg, to slip it, like a treasure, into my suitcase.


Kathleen Brewin Lewis is an Atlanta writer whose prose and poetry has appeared in Foundling Review, Weave Magazine, The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. V: Georgia, Slice of Life, and The Prose-Poem Project, among others journals. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Deep South Magazine in 2012, she is also the Senior Editor of Flycatcher. She has an MA in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University. 

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