Self-Portrait As Mango

Tarfia Faizullah

She says, Your English is great! How long have you been in our country?I say, Suck on a mango, bitch, since that’s all you think I eat anyway. Mangoesare what margins like me know everything about, right? Doesn’ta mango just win spelling bees and kiss white boys? Isn’t a mangoa placeholder in a poem folded with burkas? But this one,the one I’m going to slice and serve down her throat, is a mangothat remembers jungles jagged with insects, the river’s darker thirst.This mango was cut down by a scythe that beheads soldiers, mangothat taunts and suns itself into a hard-palmed fist only a few monthsper year, fattens while blood stains green ponds. Why use a mangoto beat her perplexed? Why not a coconut? Because this “exotic” fruitwon’t be cracked open to reveal whiteness to you. This mangoisn’t alien just because of its gold-green bloodline. I knowI’m worth waiting for. I want to be kneaded for ripeness. Mango:my own sunset-skinned heart waiting to be held and peeled, mangoI suck open with teeth. Tappai! This is the only way to eat a mango.

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Photo of Tarfia Faizullah (Poetry Foundation)

Tarfia Faizullah is the author of two poetry collections, Registers of Illuminated Villages (Graywolf, 2018) and Seam (SIU, 2014). Tarfia’s writing appears widely in the U.S. and abroad in the Daily Star, Hindu Business Line, BuzzFeed, PBS News Hour, Huffington Post, Poetry Magazine, Ms. Magazine, The Academy of American Poets, Oxford American, The New Republic, The Nation, Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket, 2019), and has been displayed at the Smithsonian, the Rubin Museum of Art, and elsewhere.

"These poems open slowly, elegantly, cradling anger, compassion, and fear."
NPR

"In her fiercely original second collection, Tarfia Faizullah traverses the globe—northern Iraq; Flint, Mich.; West Texas; Bangladesh—and employs a range of formal experiments to illuminate acts of resistance in the face of injustice and violence."
Star Tribune

"Faizullah's entire collection—powerful, wide-ranging—is an affirmation, an accomplished second book."
The Millions

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