To celebrate National Poetry Month, The Poetry Box is sharing a Poem-of-the-Day, selected from various anthologies and individual poet collections that we have published over the years.
Please enjoy today’s selection: “Scars, Philippine Sweet Potatoes and Mango” by Georgette Howington, which appears in The Poeming Pigeon – Poems about Food:
Scars, Philippine Sweet Potatoes and Mango
My five year old fingers pressed coconut oil onto the raised
red edge around the glassy skin, about the size of my palm,
on my Mother’s brown thigh, not unlike a dozen or more other
scars on her legs painting stories like faded tattoos.
She pointed to one, “Bombers overhead, shrapnel pierced
my legs, my basket of sweet potatoes flying, flesh burning,
hot blood flowing but the only pain I felt was constant hunger.”
For two years they ran from village to village; they hid.
During the day dressed as a boy she went to the old farm
fields and hands plunged into the womb of earth pulling
sweet potatoes to light, setting them free; a sacred find.
The assault passing over, she knelt to gather all she could
save, placing them back into the basket and running with the
others into a grove of mango where fruit laid next to rotting
bodies and she picked up as many as the basket would hold.
That night Tita Lola baked sweet potatoes in hot rocks, under
the tropical skies and the children ate the warm soft orange
flesh as if they were chocolate confections; mango juice
dribbling down their chins sucking on the big seeds.
My Mother stroked my hair as I rubbed the oil over her scars.