Literary Hook: Poem: ‘Mango Key Lime Chutney’

Christine Swanberg

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

Summer is often a time of travel and adventure. Seasoned travelers remember a time before 9/11 when air travel was actually pleasant, a time when you didn’t have to get to the airport an extra two hours early to stand in long security a lines.

Over the years, I have seen a number of ridiculous items confiscated from humans ranging from 3 to 90 years old. Frankly, there’s nothing you can do but to try to make the best of it, because poor behavior will not be tolerated, no matter how frazzled you are.

Here is a poem dedicated to a jar of chutney that was confiscated and is the “you” of this poem.

Mango Key Lime Chutney

I tasted you and knew we could have a history:

You in cream cheese with peppercorn crackers,

or as a garnish for blackened fish. A splash of you

on an English muffin would bring back

lush days of Florida, brilliant indigo dusk

and mango sunrises.

Oh, how we would show off for company:

Your complex zest contributing

to a memorable meal, sparking

good conversation of travel and music

among kindred spirits at the table.

You were perfect in cut glass.

I didn’t mind overpaying for you,

my bittersweet, succulent spread.

Wrapped in key lime-colored tissue

in a lemon-colored bag — why, you

could even serve as a special gift

brought home from the tropics.

So, my dear patriot, I am sorry

you have been confiscated.

Double sorry that of all I imagined of you,

weaponry wasn’t in the mix.

Your bright tissue has been rolled away,

and lo, you are more than 3 ounces.

You, my sweet, pose an airport security threat. You!

You are being thrown into whatever witch’s brew

the mango orange alert has deemed mandatory.

A Limbo of the lost and forgotten:

Cans of Ensure in every flavor,

a multitude of Lilliputian screwdrivers,

designer shampoos, a Gucci manicure kit,

fruit cocktail, St. Augustine perfume,

a monopod that looks like a billy club,

K-Y personal warming jelly, tanning oils

with varying degrees of coconut and UV protection,

a jetty of plastic bottles …

Who gets all this stuff anyway?

Do they throw a party?

How do I get invited?

First published in Meridian Anthology. Also published in The Alleluia Tree. Reprinted with permission.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet. She received the Lawrence E. Gloyd Community Impact Award at the 2012 Rockford Area Arts Council State of the Arts Awards.

From the Aug. 7-13, 2013, issue

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