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Mangosteen?

May 14, 2010

help with the poem, please

I’m in the thick of it.

What it is, I don’t know. But my sister has been scarily ill with pneumonia this week and is still in the hospital, though she may be released to go home tomorrow. (She still has debilitating ALS and is by no stretch of the imagination, better in any sense of the word that connotes “okayness.”)

Last week I left a vacation to go and be with her in Connecticut as much as was humanly possible, so one of the minor consequences of the pneumonia is that I’ve been out-of-town forever and ever and I can barely even remember where the vacation was, at this point.

I needed to come back to Brooklyn for a few days. But on my way back, before I was even on the stupid highway and had at least 2.5 hours to go in the drive, someone drove smack into the back of my car. That my son was in.

We are fine, though I am achy and disheveled and now forced to deal with thousands of insurance related phone calls. Oh, and my car is rather fantastically smashed, though “driveable,” according to the police.

When I finally arrived on my street in Brooklyn, I had to park on the street and carry in my belongings (and child) from the trip including the stroller which was in the trunk. But once the trunk was opened, it was clear that there was no way it was going to close again. I stood there and looked at the car. It now has a very pronounced underbite. Overbite? The trunk does not close; you tell me. I did a little stint of yoga breath.

You know what is really helpful in the world? Yoga breath. Whichever skinny, wizened, sinewy Indian invented it is a full-throttle genius, because it makes everything easier: from yoga; to dental procedures; to not winging the cat’s pretty little glass food bowl across the room when you really want to; to pausing while you figure out what to do with your car, whose jaw is dropping as much as yours is.

Then I called my landlord, who is an 87ish year old artist who lives upstairs. One of the great things about 87 year olds is that they are almost always at home when you call them, and this one is really handy, too. As well as nice. I told him that the trunk of my smushed up car wouldn’t close, and that I really couldn’t figure it out, and could he could just please come outside and figure something out for me.

And he did, and I love him.

Meanwhile, I am trying to get work done, play with Henry, and take it easy. Have you ever been really sick but forced to be at work? I have, and I’ve experienced it this way:

All I have to do is sit at my desk slash attend meetings and blah until six something, at which point I can go home and rest.

And thinking of things in that way sort of does work. So this week, all I need to do is call the insurance company and make some dinner and put the baby to bed and do my job and then rest, until we go back to Connecticut.

When things are grim, things that aren’t grim can either seem 1) grim or 2) amazingly bright and shiny in contrast. To play to this second option, I have started to read Tom Jones in the bathtub during Epsom salt soaks. I have granted myself full short-term permission to watch Mad Men in the afternoon if I feel like it. (Okay, I only watched 20 minutes of it during an afternoon, once, but it really did wonders for my “I’m doing whatever I want” attitude, since it was such a departure from my world.) And I’m thinking up things that embody a sense of delight.

Which brings me, finally, to the Mangosteen question. Fruit, as you might know, is in general such a crazily magic invention that it goes neck-and-neck with the Ujjayi breath. Ah, who are we kidding, fruit wins. But it can be easy to take the bright, juicy, sweet and tart magic of an orange for granted if we have one every day.

There is a poem about a fruit so wonderful, so mythical, so rare . . . the mangosteen. I thought it was by Lewis Carroll but I can’t find it. Lewis Carroll: also magic. Do you know the poem? Can you help me out? I would like to see this poem. I would like to share it with everyone who reads this blog.

It would make us all happy.

Have you had mangosteen? I had some mangosteen juice a few weeks ago at the Purple Yam on Cortelyou. Along with something called “sugar-cured pork steak,” or something, which is just what it sounds like. Oh, and there were some eggs on the plate, so we could pretend that it was actually a viable meal, rather than a playmeal of pigmeat soaked in sugar capped off by mythical juices — because no one would believe that meal.

That meal would be like watching TV in the afternoon. Hence, the eggs.

Anyhow the mangosteen tasted like passionfruit. Which is basically the most delicious fruit ever, but the description of mangosteen was so otherworldly that I figured we’d be going somewhere else on the spectrum of deliciousness.

Sometimes I would like to be able to draw the arc of a flavor. Drawing is not a thing that falls within my purview but I wonder if there is a system anywhere set up for that.

Pointy, round, fizzy, salt, can we communicate with shapes and color?

This post is all over the place. Honestly, can you blame me?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 14, 2010 6:25 pm

    I love this post. I’m sorry things are so unbelievably difficult right now.
    I really wish there were something I could do to make it better.
    Maybe I can track down that poem. Shouldn’t the internet be able to do that!?

    j.

  2. May 18, 2010 9:11 pm

    Wait, wait, wait! I somehow didn’t read this post when it happened but only now. And I can’t believe you got rear-ended with your baby in the car and your car is smashed and it happened when you were on the way home from visiting in the hospital and life is so unfair sometimes!
    I am glad you are Epsom salting because that is a good thing to do anyway but especially after the various traumas of vacation, vacation being cut short, spending lots of time in hospitals, worrying, and getting in a car accident. I wish I could take you to see my opera-singing chiropractor who I met after someone ran into the back of my car and made it not work. She is pretty and wears the kind of shoes that it seems like a chiropractor would tell people not to wear. Big hugs!

  3. May 18, 2010 9:14 pm

    Also, here is a mangosteen poem. Though, I am pretty sure, not the one you want.

    Poetry referencing mangosteen

    How much I miss the eastern region,
    Long to touch its hills and forests again,
    To hear the Hoang bird’s song at dawn
    The gibbons’ sad cry at night.
    We shared a half bowl of rice to fight off hunger.
    We cleared forests, our backs slashed by thorns.
    Our sweat watered the ground, our hearts burned.
    The rice and sweet potatoes greened and grew.
    The Mangosteen leaves so bitter, but the yam roots so sweet.
    Even eating bland rice, we laughed.
    We swung in our hammocks, finding rest
    in the half-smoked cigarette passed between us.

    – Xuan Mien’s “Missing The Eastern Region”

  4. May 18, 2010 9:17 pm

    This is not it, either, but seems more in the style:

    Bleezer’s Ice Cream by Jack Prelutsky
    I am Ebenezer Bleezer,
    I run BLEEZER’S ICE CREAM STORE,
    there are flavors in my freezer
    you have never seen before,
    twenty-eight divine creations
    too delicious to resist,
    why not do yourself a favor,
    try the flavors on my list:

    COCOA MOCHA MACARONI
    TAPIOCA SMOKED BALONEY
    CHECKERBERRY CHEDDAR CHEW
    CHICKEN CHERRY HONEYDEW
    TUTTI-FRUTTI STEWED TOMATO
    TUNA TACO BAKED POTATO
    LOBSTER LITCHI LIMA BEAN
    MOZZARELLA MANGOSTEEN
    ALMOND HAM MERINGUE SALAMI
    YAM ANCHOVY PRUNE PASTRAMI
    SASSAFRAS SOUVLAKI HASH
    SUKIYAKI SUCCOTASH
    BUTTER BRICKLE PEPPER PICKLE
    POMEGRANATE PUMPERNICKEL
    PEACH PIMENTO PIZZA PLUM
    PEANUT PUMPKIN BUBBLEGUM
    BROCCOLI BANANA BLUSTER
    CHOCOLATE CHOP SUEY CLUSTER
    AVOCADO BRUSSELS SPROUT
    PERIWINKLE SAUERKRAUT
    COTTON CANDY CARROT CUSTARD
    CAULIFLOWER COLA MUSTARD
    ONION DUMPLING DOUBLE DIP
    TURNIP TRUFFLE TRIPLE FLIP
    GARLIC GUMBO GRAVY GUAVA
    LENTIL LEMON LIVER LAVA
    ORANGE OLIVE BAGEL BEET
    WATERMELON WAFFLE WHEAT

    I am Ebenezer Bleezer,
    I run BLEEZER’S ICE CREAM STORE,
    taste a flavor from my freezer,
    you will surely ask for more.

  5. January 4, 2013 1:33 pm

    Hi – did you ever find that poem about mangosteens?

    I stumbled upon this site and looking at the posts, I’m a couple of years late, but here’s one:

    ‘Mangosteens’, by Daniel Hall

    ‘These are the absolute top of the line,
    I was telling him, they even surpass
    the Jiangsu peach and the McIntosh
    for lusciousness and subtlety…. (He frowned:
    McIntosh. How spelling.) We were eating
    our way through another kilogram
    of mangosteens, for which we’d both fallen
    hard. I’d read that Queen Victoria
    (no voluptuary) once offered a reward
    for an edible mangosteen: I don’t know
    how much, or whether it was ever claimed.
    (But not enough, I’d guess, and no, I hope.)
    Each thick skin yields to a counter-twist,
    splits like rotted leather. Inside, snug
    as a brain in its cranium, half a dozen
    plump white segments, all but dry, part
    to the tip of the tongue like lips – they taste
    like lips, before they’re bitten, a saltiness
    washed utterly away; crushed, they release
    a flood of unfathomable sweetness,
    gone in a trice. He lay
    near sleep, sunk back against a slope
    of heaped-up bedding, stroked slantwise by fingers
    of afternoon sun. McIntosh, he said again,
    still chewing. I’d also been reading The Spoils
    of Poynton, so slowly the plot seemed to unfold
    in real-time. ” ‘Things’ were of course
    the sum of the world,” James tosses out
    in that mock-assertive, contradiction-baffling
    way he has, quotation marks gripped like a tweezers
    lest he soil his hand on things,
    as if the only things that mattered
    were that homage be paid to English widowhood,
    or whether another of his young virgins
    would ever marry. (She wouldn’t, but she would,
    before the novel closed, endure one shattering
    embrace, a consummation.) I spent the day
    sleepwalking the halls of museums, a vessel
    trembling at the lip. Lunch was a packet
    of rice cakes and an apple in a garden
    famed for its beauty, and deemed beautiful
    for what had been taken away. I can still hear it,
    still taste it, his quick gasp of astonishment
    caught in my own mouth. I can feel that house
    going up with a shudder, a clockwise funnel
    howling to the heavens, while the things of her world
    explode or melt or shrivel to ash
    in the ecstatic emptying. The old woman set the fire
    herself, she must have, she had to. His letter,
    tattooed with postmarks, was waiting for me
    back at the ryokan, had overtaken me
    at last, half in Chinese, half in hard-won
    English, purer than I will ever write –

    Please don’t give up me in tomorrow

    The skin was bitter. It stained the tongue.

    I want with you more time’

    • January 4, 2013 7:38 pm

      Hi Amy,
      This is fantastic! No, I never found what I was looking for. I need to look for that poem again. But thanks for sharing this one!

  6. January 21, 2013 7:01 pm

    Hi 🙂 No problem at all, I hope you liked it and I’m sorry it isn’t the right one!

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