Fat & Thin

In Vietnam they were "Mập–Ốm" 
and in Spain, "El Gordo y el Flaco."

Where I grew up, we simply asked 
for the square packets in which

salted, roasted watermelon seeds 
were sold at the corner sari-sari store: 

"Fat & Thin," known to the rest of the world 
as Laurel & Hardy. Bare feet on Saturday 

porch steps, heads bent over rented, dog-eared 
komiks. Our lips whitened as we cracked each brittle 

pod open and our tongues extracted the slivers
of meat inside, our greedy labors incommensurate 

to what it took to gather them from the bellies of fruit out 
of an acreage and more. A pile of dark shells grew where

we sat, until the hour when a cuckoo might have trilled 
or taunted the lateness of the day; until one of us had 

his ears pinched by an irate mother—our own small 
vaudevilles playing to a gallery as the lamps came on.


  

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