SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

On the End of Mango Season, and Still Falling Fruit by Christell Victoria Roach

Love does not want this body

swelled as a June-split mango,

bruised as all tree fruit pre-fall,

sitting atop tufts of dead grass

and snakeskin. This body been

baked for hours in the sun, has

stung the fence and leaves sweet

and untouchable. The branches,

bare and brown, been pulled down

like the arms of hopeless mothers.


Each pulp-stained head, a shade

of summer we call red. One ripe

stone-fruit, firm on one side, half-

eaten, brown or bruised on the other.

The pulp darkened in the heat, sap

lost all color overnight, and where

the mango sat rotting, a face-like

indent marked the once-alive grass.

Three months of fruit gathered

beneath the tree, brown, bodies.


The leaves gave up their green

as witness, were blown apart

by the constant fall. The tree takes

the shape of my mother, bending

to collect a basket-full of mangoes,

each one she names. The sound

of tree-fruit, thumping to the ground,

is an ever-growing toll. Sounds

like skin hitting skin, like dead weight,

like August.


My father dragged the television out

to the patio, so he could watch the news

and wade in the pool. His stereo played

bluegrass folk from the Florida room.

I was gathering bulbs while he lay.

When the news rung out, I stilled

my hand. When daddy said not another

one, I bent down again. A brown boy

grown ripe in the sun, while a garden

snake began shedding at my feet.


The snake wound like a tongue,

wrung itself free of the dead skin;

as I picked up a half-eaten mango

it calmed. Black, it sat, with splotches

of red, looking moist beneath a dry shell.

A black widow twitched on a leaf. It, too,

is black and red. Across the yard my father

swims laps. The television has yet to pick

up the boy on the ground. In the house,

mother is making jam, calling for my brothers.

Christell Victoria Roach is a writer born and raised in Miami, Florida. She is currently double majoring in Creative Writing & African American Studies at Emory University. She writes to advocate for awareness, for social justice efforts, and to create representation for the voices of her people. Christell was a 2015 National YoungArts Foundation Winner in Poetry, and has traveled the country performing spoken word with Tigertail WordSpeak and YouthSpeaks’ Brave New Voices. She has received awards in Carnegie Hall, and recently performed poetry in the Kennedy Center. A finalist in poetry & playwriting for the Agnes Scott Writer's Festival, she carries a quote within her: “Passion overrides talent.” It pushes her to own the presence in the art she carries.


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To the Person Who Marked Up This Book of Poetry by Amy Miller