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"ode to fruit—as a love language" by Rachel Lu (they/them)

Updated: Jan 9

Fruit is a love language for immigrant daughters

I’m convinced but Fruit as a love language

cannot be equated to

quality time or acts of service physical touch words of affirmation or gifts,

while an orange




mango) itself might look like a present after running under cold water

decorated by my mother’s touch

her worn, ruthless hands and

plated onto a platter I imagine oranges being much more part of the past —

their peels not 2D models of the colonizer’s globe instead temporal maps

of her unwritten histories a reminder of what is inside

how these slices cubes chunks are seven or eight, maybe ten acts of service in their own right

in my mother’s mother land oranges were luxuries mined and surfaced

until reaching her hands— waiting nine months to taste their fruit—

my mother likes 丑橘子(ugly) tangerines best

cups them in her hands, admires their wrinkles

says their juice is sweeter

I wonder if this is how immigrant mothers think of their daughters,

saying to themselves take this weathered life of mine the ways it has been beaten and eroded

and make something tender

something kind,

sweet, pure, full

I wonder if this is how immigrant mothers raise their daughters

imparting knowledge through force say this is molding them

say here is the fruit of my

hours,,, no, decades of labor

and I promise it is sweeter

in spite of me

hoping that one day,

once they have ripened

someone look past their weathering

and find something worthwhile

my mother gives fruit as an apology

spends quality time peeling and slicing chunks for what she will never say in words

for what she can never say in words

that she does not need to do the same for me

And just might already find me worthwhile