In the latest issue:

The World Goes Bust

Adam Tooze

A nice girl like Simone

Joanna Biggs

The Arrestables

Jeremy Harding

Short Cuts: Built from Light

Daniel Soar

‘Cleanness’

Edmund Gordon

The Ghent Altarpiece

Julian Bell

You can’t prove I meant X

Clare Bucknell

At the Royal Academy: Léon Spilliaert

John-Paul Stonard

Conrad Jumps Ship

Fredric Jameson

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

Poem: ‘Mayfly’

Fiona Benson

Follow the Science

James Butler

Diary: #coronasomnia

Wang Xiuying

Close
Close

During my last reservist stint, in Ama Keng,
that unmistakeable waft: like garbage and onions
and liquid petroleum gas all mixed in one. We jerked
our helmeted heads upward, and saw the spiky bombs.
Durians. Two soldiers waded into the lallang and long
spiky-grassed undergrowth, sweeping for fallen fruit.
I remembered what my dad once told me,
that durian trees knew when you were underneath
and would not let their deadly payload drop.
They were smarter than we thought; those things could
kill. For when they had spent the years
building up to seed, they did not want to waste
their chance by murdering their postmen.
It spoke husks about why we were there,
stuck in sweatstink and number four fatigues,
when a drive by Dempsey Road could have reaped
D24 fruit from Selangor. I guess we take
what we can get. All the same, I couldn’t help
thinking of the Filipino legend, in which a hermit
made a fruit to help a king win over a princess,
then cursed it when the king neglected to invite him
to the wedding feast; and we’ve been eating it ever since.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences