I am eating a mango with many paper towels,
getting the sweet sticky stuff all over me.
I am a child, eating a mudpie of the sun and not interested
in all the things I’ll understand when I grow up.
My cheeks are smudged and shining. Civilization hides in other corner of the room;
the city of Byzantium with its spires, the city of New York
with its skyscrapers, both sing enticingly from their corners
but it all goes over my head. I am a child digging into a mango
the way I dug to China in my backyard,
the other side of the world is always close enough to my hands.
Me and the juicy sun, we understand each other.
My throat throbs with slippery mango chunks
I know I’ll be scolded for the happy orange stains
all over my nice new shirt, I don’t care. I am a child,
bulging to be eaten. I’ve played with mudpies of the earth,
they say I was a mudpie in a garden once. Now I’m playing
with a mudpie of the sun. The sky sun pours in the window
asking what took me so long.
I tell it how good it tastes.
I want to put the whole world in my mouth
the way they tell me not to.
I am a child outside of time, eating a mango
and being eaten.
Julia Vinograd was Berkeley’s informal “poet laureate.” Her poems about Telegraph Avenue and life in Berkeley in the late 60’s and beyond were beloved by many. She died in December, 2018.