By Jeddie Sophronius
About the writer: Jeddie Sophronius (he/they) is a Chinese-Indonesian writer, translator, and educator from Jakarta. He received his MFA from the University of Virginia, where he served as the editor of Meridian and spent his time getting beaten in chess and fencing. His work has appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. Raised in Australia, they divide their time between the U.S. and Indonesia. Follow them on Instagram at @nakedcentaur and read more of their work at linktr.ee/nakedcentaur.
Love & Sambal
Without the lingering of your redness,
my tongue would be so lonely for pain.
What am I if not a masochist?
Instead of a kiss, I ask for the same
thing each time, a momentary bliss.
Perhaps I’ve never been allowed to love
in the ways I wanted: undisturbed,
slow, without the world at my doorstep.
I too, have stopped asking for anything
other than my share. My burden.
I turn to you then, sambal, for I know
your familiar burn, always pleasant.
Your body: a crimson grind, soft skin
of a dried pepper, sprinkled with a taste
of lime—watery. Yes, I ask for all this.
Self-Portrait as Durian
You don’t know I exist, don’t you? Never
heard of a fruit so exotic my thick
yellow skin would light up the streets at night
just like fireworks. Your pampered tongue has
nothing to compare me with. Hi. Call me,
king of fruits. I offer a glimpse of sweet
heaven on your lips, but you spit me out
like a bad seed. Because I smell different.
Because I force your airplanes to land right
after takeoff. Because you don’t want me.
Because you’ve been warned of others like me:
fertilized duck egg, fermented shark meat,
rotten century-old egg, snake-whiskey,
and fried locust. Ban us. Ban me, all my
body. Place “No Durian Allowed” signs
in your subways, your hotels, your borders.
Write articles. Defend why you compare
me to a gym sock or a carcass. Talk
amongst yourselves. Ask a council of food
experts: How to open a durian?
Why would anyone want a durian?
Because I taste better than orgasm.
Here’s an advice. Slice my husk open. Grab
my flesh with both hands. Get your nails dirty
for once. Then dig in. Dig in deep. Shred me
to the core. And when you’re done, top me off
with four shots of rum.