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Wende Skidmore DuFlon

 

Beloved Bananas

 

deep dive
long pine needles stand
on the pool floor

She is five years old and her hair is the color of bananas.  She loves bananas.  She knows I bring them home once a week.  Though I am not her original mother because I came to her when she was a toddler, we are growing into life together.  My self-confidence for mothering is still low.

She does not want to finish her dinner.  She knows she has to.  I want to say that there are hungry children right in our town that would gobble that food if they had it.  It occurs to me to tell her about the families that live in El Basurero, the dump in Zone 3, the biggest dump in all of Central America, where kids pick out treasures, including food, out of our trash.  They sort plastic bottles from glass ones from one-armed dolls from plumbing parts from pizza still-in-the-box.  I know that guilt and shame did not work for me as a kid so I put my two thoughts in the dead files.  The phone rings and I leave the room pondering what to tell her.

The baked potato and black beans are gone when I come to the table.  It is unlikely to have been eaten so quickly.  It occurs to me that they may have gone to the dogs outside, though she knows not to give them human food, or the garbage pail inside.

Earth Hour
our neighbors’ wedding party
is in full swing

I am beginning to realize that children learn to lie from adults who think children guilty before they are proven to be, so I resist looking or asking about her dinner.  I remind her to clear her place and then brush her teeth and get into bed so her papa can read her a story.

I clean up the kitchen.  She and her papa are fast asleep when I open the garbage pail and am greeted by the potato in its skin sitting on top of the heap of black beans and other organic matter we did not use.  My chuckle quickly turns into a hard lump in my throat and tears sting under my eye lids.  I really am not so sure I am up to this parenting adventure.

At breakfast her scrumptious and cheerful little girl voice asks for two bananas because she woke up very hungry this morning.  I open the first and give it to her.  She likes eating it like a monkey rather than sliced.  She packs in granola, milk, hot tea, and a slice of toast with her two bananas.

On the drive to the bus stop I hear myself ask if she knows where bananas come from.  From the back seat she says not really but maybe from the market?  I make a mental note to show her banana trees.

I hear myself continue that like most things bananas come from seeds on plants that use rain water and sunlight to grow.  Bananas grow in clumps on a tree with huge floppy leaves.  When they are nearly ripe people are paid to pick them and other people are paid to drive them on trucks to markets where people like me who work to make money to buy them go find fresh beautiful bananas.  I pick the nicest ones for my family, put them in my cart, drive them home, unpack them, wash their skins and let them air dry to be ready for us to eat.  They are yummy and full of things that your body uses to grow just like the banana used.  But, if you pitch it out then what happens to the sun, the water, the truck ride, the selection, washing, and peeling of the banana on its trip to your tummy?

Not a sound came from the back seat.  We were at the bus stop.  I helped her get her book bag, hugged her hard, kissed her forehead and helped her up the steps into the bus.

Never again did I find her unfinished food in the garbage pail.

dandelion seeds. . .
the words i speak
are no longer mine

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Wende Skidmore DuFlon lives in a small town outside La Antigua, Guatemala with her husband and children. Wende has lived in Latin America for the last 25 years, working in reproductive health, education, nutrition and development communications. The world through a haiku optic and the learning that comes from sharing work with other writers is new and wonderful for Wende. See her work in Frogpond, Simply Haiku, Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest, Haiku Society of America Anthology 2009 and 2010, and Ribbons.

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