the farthest memories

I see my brother’s face as the ground grows smaller, he is smiling, propping me up somewhere. As he leaves I look around and see that the ceiling is much too close, I much too high. I open my mouth and my wail fills the room where we all sleep and my mom comes in shouting, she picks me off the bunk bed and my first sight of ground is relieving but so terrifying, it is so far from where I am, such a long drop between my body and its surface. I turn and lay my cheek in the space between her neck and shoulder, where I know it’s safe.

The mango is sticky in my hands, juice dripping over my chin and onto my shirt. I know she’ll scold me later, but it’s too delicious to stop. The bone is my favorite part, and I scrape sweet fruit from the fibrous center, feeling the pieces going in between my teeth. Mango on my skin, in my fingernails, I am melting into it under the hot sun. I’ve won a contest and am to ride atop a jeepney, my dad and uncle are building the seat in front of me. They joke about me rolling off, and I look down at my round belly under the stretched shirt and regret the mango.

Mangos aren’t as good here.

It was raining the day we left, mom and dad left the half-packed boxes and went outside. They came back soaked and laughing and I remember the happy parts in movies, just before a shift in plot. 

I look from here and watch the horizon and think of symmetry. I’ve existed on mirror images and am searching for the other side but all I see is my reflection. 

Language is funny, the way English felt like marbles in my mouth. Learning to speak and listen is changing the dance patterns of your tongue and jaw, grooving to a new rhythm and hoping your muscle memory will catch on. I was still young and pliable, drifting away, pulled along for the ride. I wonder when and where it was that I stopped looking back at the shrinking sunrise. Maybe if I find the exact coordinates I could return and it will look the same from that angle.

We came here on different ships but we both love mangos in the same way. I hold my mirror up to yours and create an infinity between us. Maybe we can look together. 

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