Mangoes on Fruitvale Avenue – by Connie Soper

Pigeons waft over steam grates—not taking flight,
never going anywhere—as they hover on stale air

above the commuter station. Again I’m longing
for places I’ve never been, away from spreadsheets

and charts, to towns not pinned on any map. I cross
the plaza to board the Green Line headed south.

The train lurches above the gritty city, past murals
swallowing concrete walls in a strangle of painted vines

and tropical gardens. Doors slide open
with a pneumatic hiss onto Fruitvale Avenue where kids

shoot hoops in the macadamed schoolyard, amid
the aroma of pan dulce and sweet empanadas,

and I find the mango guy selling fruit from a cart,
fruit already peeled, sliced, stuck into Ziplock bags.

Our commerce so simple: a few dollars, a gracias
for sweet beauties the color of treasure,

of a Mexican sunrise splitting its seams. Mangos
ripened under a distant sun, hauled

on trucks from Tijuana and brought
here to me—here, to this bench

where I sit next to the tracks,
one station away from where I came.

Connie SoperConnie Soper’s poems have appeared in Ekphrastic Review, Catamaran, Cider Press Review, Clackamas Literary Review, and elsewhere. She divides her time between Portland and Manzanita, Oregon. Her first full length book of poetry, A Story Interrupted, was published by Airlie Press in 2022. She is currently at work on her second collection.