Thu Nguyen
Plum


There are reasons you should not sit across
from fruit: watching it is wanting it is
taking it, and to take is to be had.

When I look at it, I think of peeling it,
grabbing an edge and stretching the flesh back,
purple madness at the point of ripeness.

Stripping off more before biting in,
the in is the sweetness protected by skin,
the in is the sugar.

I am what you want.
I am a dilemma-sticky.
And even though you know you can't have me,


you will pick me.
My colors draw you near,
but my taste keeps you here.


So I take this fruit and I partake of this fruit,
and they were right-I am had-
and it's wonderful and it's quick and quickly gone,

and as the taste moves from mouth to mind and back to mouth,
and there is no more fruit, there is the aftertaste,
the afterfruit, what it is to want fruit.

There is fruit, what is outside of it, what keeps it from me,
and there is sugar, what is inside of it, and
inside, a stone.




Ripening


Imagine that you are an unripe piece of fruit.
I am an unripe piece of fruit.
You need more time to mature.
I must mature.
If you are picked now, you will taste bitter.
I am bitter.
In time, you will ripen and taste sweet.
Do you understand?
No, I do not understand.

*

A girl has no choice but to
turn herself into fruit and
join the story-telling.

*

Daughter to Father:

My fruit has not been plucked.
Perhaps the Opium War was really the Rhubarb War:
natural laxative and the treasure of China, rhubarb
meant an end to opium and
a cure for foreigners' constipation
.

Wars over fruits and vegetables-war over
rhubarb is a useless war

and my fruit does not taste bitter
.

*

Fruit waiting to be happened upon - grapes,
crushed and aged, make wine.
Wine is bitter and
Gai Ru
is my given name
because He gave it to me.
Translation: Red Wine, a delicacy.
Adjectives galore: beautiful, expensive,
pleasing.

And so the story continues:
When my mother drinks red wine,
her entire body turns red.
Just her face, at first,
but then it spreads -
the entire body, covered,
red,
like wine.
"Asian stoplight."

*

Twisting and pushing down, relentless
until all that is left are
the outers,
skin, bringing out the juices.
I need a man. Be a man.
Hurt more than pain.
Be a man.
She rolled over.
It was over:
he was not a man.
All that he had to offer
she had just taken from him.

Had her fruit been plucked?

Plucked,
pilfered from Him for him.
Juices, life's tricky wetness squeezed
for pleasure, for a story.