The loquat bends with clustered orbs of yellow
fruit, velvet at the edges. We steal its light

at every opportunity, passing on the other
side of where it's been fenced in. We are mostly

inconsequential to the ones who mark this wealth
so studiously: each tree numbered, even as the fruit

wastes to a dark syrup the gravel path. If heaven
drops a date or any other kind of fruit, the proverb

goes, you open your palm. Or is it your mouth?
If the distance from hand to mouth is the measure

of how near you are to a pot of rice boiling
on the stove, how many scoops will put your hunger

to bed? The women chew betel leaf and areca nut because
they know how the mouth must be slaked then numbed

from time to time; how the red they pulp with their teeth
is small intermission before the curtains pull open again.

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