Kathryn Hummel

Kathryn Hummel is a writer, researcher, multi-media artist and editor from South Australia. Author of five books of poems, her creative and scholarly works have been internationally published/performed/translated/anthologised/recognised. Poetry collections forthcoming in 2019: Lamentville (Math Paper Press) and splashback (2nd ed.) [Prote(s)xt Books].



The Etymology of mangosteen


I am coming to think of jointless convexities when
the morning’s power allowance sheds in one steady
ophidian move. 

Switches to appliances (included in the room) twitch
in rapid tempo, slowing to largo until an inverse
symphony remains.

Regular and unexotic, the gas ring flames: a blue-edged
variation in the atmosphere. Disruptions of this kind call
for chai 

and the deliberation of properties—time, with its
porousness of hot clay under milk, a quality that all
history dignifies. 

Water peels from the mouth of the kettle; tea leaves
form an alloy with tin and nostalgia. To eat, there are
fruits only. 

The grocer has been careful in his generosity—this
papaya, pocked black by the sun warping the tarpaulin
hood of his stall, 

was offered to atone for the cost of mangosteen.
Music in the name is not so distant: each Malay note
and Tamil sound 

cleaved by Malayalam; placed inside the pocket of
the Portuguese. Under moderate pressure, the flowery
motifs of origin twist. 

From present formality grows an exocarp, bloodlessly
shading arils shy of sunlight. Obliging clouds drop with
a heft that stifles 

any gasp or shrieking. Now falls the rain, containing the
sting of the ocean. I remember witnessing gratitude for
bananas: a child who 

refused to eat would only consider fruit from his own fist,
first peeled by his mother and consumed as he wandered,
an atavism as inscrutable 

as childbirth. If suffering makes noble, all of us are queens.
I doubt I should stop to think whether to cut or tear, but
consider bartering 

an eye tooth for a jackfruit seed; oil for a likely blade,
composed of Andhra steel and sharper than any pith
encircling the kernel.