The Durian, King of Fruits

J. Allyn Rosser

Spring 2018

Who could explain the lure of the durian,
its dung-blasted musk of maturing carrion
encased in a spiky, mace-like husk?
Addictive, eaten in secret: a nothing-inuring
odor of vomit, rotten egg, urine,
weeks-old twice-worn gym-sock stench . . .
Yet tigers will kill if they must for one durian,
leaving both victim and basket, hurrying
off with the more scrumptious lunch.
Illegal in Thailand to eat in the open, and
shunned by every Kuala Lumpurian
who’s managed thus far to quench
the yearning for golden pulp so creamily pure
in sweetness, that for those who endure
the durian’s grand emporium
of stinks, it must be like swimming to Charon
through brimstone: reboard that ferry and
feast, feast deep on sweetness there,
as if they might exhale their way to open air.

J. Allyn Rosser’s fourth collection, Mimi’s Trapeze, appeared in 2014 from the University of Pittsburgh Press. Her work has been awarded the Morse Prize, the New Criterion Poetry Prize, and Poetry’s Bock and Wood prizes, and she has been the recipient of Lannan, Guggenheim, NEA, and Ohio Arts Council fellowships. She teaches at Ohio University, where she also edited the New Ohio Review for eight years.

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