I opened the fridge at work

and inside

was the most sweet warming swell

of tropical fruit

It fluttered into my belly

reminding me, like the ghost of christmas past

of an abundance of mangoes

hot days and sticky fruits and christmas on the farm

days spent picking the yellow mounds of flesh from trees

flicking the stem away so the sap didn’t drip

cleaning them in big concrete tubs

boxing them

so many boxes

the panoply of oranges, red, yellows

and a flitter of green

hot hot summer christmas days at our second farm

picking mangoes by the sweat of day

and sleeping on high high spare beds

in our confusing ramshackle bare haunted farmhouse

that only saw us on holidays and mustering weekends

my sister would always have her birthday while we were there

we would play hide and seek under mountains of mattresses

I would talk to Bessie, the farmhouse cow

who lived on the gnarled branches of a poinsettia tree

The fresh sweet smell of tropical fruit…

taking me back too

to the summer of my independence

18, fresh from school, travelling alone in Malaysia

the green jungle

the decaying fruit mounds by the side of the winding roads

the durian

heavy prickly breast of fruit

cleavered open by a cane knife

sucking the yellow custard textured flesh

of large brown seeds

whole days were spent in the quest of durian with my malaysian host families

it smells like hell, but tastes like heaven

in the villages the durian were plentiful

1 ringgit

in the city they were found in the markets

more expensive

but families would buy them as a special treat

and around the tiled kitchen floor we gathered

kneeling on our haunches

suckling on the nationalistic fruit

the sweet sweet smell

the durian shop in the mega shopping mall – a board outside which read

Durian is an aphrodisiac – when the durian season is in, the sarongs are up!

the fruit kebab stores at the mall

everywhere the smell

of tropical fruit

and now in the cool of a concrete tower

in canberra

during winter

i am taken back by the ghost of christmases past

to a farmhouse in bowen

and the jungle of malaysia

the mangoes and the durian