Pakistan’s Gold A loose Pindaric* ode to a delicious mango As still-hard flesh, this baton passes blushed apricots, green-skinned Hasses,** to triumph in a grocer’s tier. Event two in a domestic Mount Olympus: here ripens the sweet-juiced summer discus.
My 87-year-old landlady swears by the small, golden-skinned Pakistani mangoes that are imported each summer. “They are absolutely the sweetest mangoes I’ve ever tasted.” This is the second year she keeps telling me this and occasionally leaving a yellow orb in my allocated fruit-bowl, a brown earthenware creation that she threw many years ago during her Friday pottery class.
The orbs tend to arrive hard and unyielding to a finger squeeze. I must leave them to wrinkle and move into their mango aroma. It is an anti-race, for the ripening takes time. It only speeds up if there is a helpful warm spell such as the one we have had these last few days.
When they are ready – and too often I am impatient – I eat the ripened treasures over the sink. Slicing off the skin is as pleasurable as paring orange slivers off the stone. I forego a bowl; I eat the slices there and then.
Gazing at the garden, on view from the window above the sink, is part of the moment. With this mango I take in a blue summer sky above, the pink and cerise wall-roses in abundant bloom. Ah! Such is a full summer discus of a moment.
It’s then that a gust whips a rush of browning petals over the wall, across my scene.
* The Pindaric ode, named after the poet Pindar, originally celebrated athletic victories in Ancient Greece. In this context, it was delivered by a chorus and dancers. In English, Pindaric odes exhibit formal and metrical complexity. The opening strophe is followed and mirrored by the antistrophe. The closing of the ode, the epode, adopts a different structure. Read these odes by Wordsworth and Thomas Gray to see these elements engaged to good poetic effect.
** Oh yes, a Hass is a variety of avocado.
If you enjoyed the above, glance over my first volume of poetry, Shining in Brightness.
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