Sunday, November 8, 2009

Walking alongside the market in Papeete, its high-ceilinged acres, I glimpsed tiers of mangoes, unattended, on tables in the dim warmth of late afternoon. I went toward them, stopped, stood waiting for someone to appear. “Tiare!” a voice called from the shadows, and in a moment a vision burst forth, one arm upraised, fingers snapping as if the aisle between the clusters of mangoes were the runway of a Harlem drag ball. “Oui?” she inquired with a moue, a raised eyebrow, having caught all the laughter in the world, just barely. So radiant that I stumbled over my words, trying to explain that I wanted some mangoes, not too green. She chose three for me, palpating them gently, putting them into a plastic bag. As she disappeared again the way she had come, she called to me over her shoulder. “If you want them to ripen quickly,” she said, “keep them in the shadows. Les fruits mûrissent le soir." Fruit ripens at night.

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