I spent my entire childhood
not knowing the name of the fruit

apples and oranges were just plain
easier for us
to not only eat
but pronounce as well

but one day
that would all change—

What oddity!  What color!
What magnificence!
This strange, interesting fruit!

“How do you eat this, Mama?”
My sister and I asked, while looking
to our Asian mother’s eyes that seemed sealed
with a secret

“Just peel it open and look inside,”
she’d say, while placing long cookie sheets
on our tiny laps

The cookie sheets would balance precariously
as my sister and I would squeal in delight
and soon our curiosity would break through
the leathery red skin, revealing
all the glory of the packed kernels inside

“Oh, Mama! Look! Look!”
Our hands fumbled this dazzling fruit
in blissful offer to her
and with her knowing smile
she’d admit to us, “They’re just like rubies….”

“Yes! Just like rubies, rubies!”
My sister and I chanted in awe.

But then we wondered, “How?”
“Just chew them up and spit them out,” our mother ordered
and for a 10-year-old
and a 6-year-old
nothing seemed more fun

It was the crunchiness, the sweetness
the tartness, the game to see who
could peel back the better patch
and our mother shouting;
“Watch the juice! The juice!”
That would pleasure our little souls
into so much satisfaction
that we’d then  sit back
and measure the treasured pile
of our chewed up gems

I’d understand
why apples and oranges
would always be in our basket
instead of this precious fruit

“Mama! Look! Over there! There!
Rubies! Rubies!”
Our little fingers identifying them in the distance
and our childhood would soon covet gleefully. . .

. . .however under saddened eyes
I remember our mother would sometimes reply, “No, not today, too expensive.”

“Too expensive?” What silent secret seemed sealed again?

“Yes, too expensive,” she’d whisper sorrowfully,
“just like rubies. . .”

From time to time now,
I do still see that favorite fruit of ours,
piled high at the store and every time do
I recollect in this all
once again

Its still oddity, color
and magnificence
of a childhood yet still. . .so sometimes missed

And though apples and oranges
remain in my own basket
I do invite our favorite fruit in occasionally

If only just to reminisce
the value of its packed memories within—

Side by side
the sight of those seeds
still held together so tightly
and still radiating the red, red
shine of my sweet mother’s Asian eyes
still sealed with that same salty secret—

Rubies are a fortune
but we still managed to find our very own
And all in just
the palm of a pomegranate.