Oranges

Oranges

Warm nights have arrived, that let you sink
into them like a bath: tepid, then
chilly if you rise into a current of air.
Flowers bloom even at night, here.
Cacti curl out over the paths.
We walk, my brother and I: after
wine, after spaghetti. He makes it the
way our mother does. I never quite
got the trick no matter how much she
tried to teach me. The recipes another
thing between us, curled paper with
loopy handwriting I couldn’t read.

41st Street, 40th. I’ve never lived in
numbers so high. Which means
nothing, of course, only what I
want it to, the same as what I
say about the cacti—like spongy
seaweed—or the bathwater—like a
mirror, like a salted sea—
like, like: all I can do is compare.
What are the words for a thing?
For this warm air, this graveled
alley. For my brother, my mother.
Peel a thing like an orange and
palm the pips (again, like), the smallest
piece before nothing. Look.
This is an orange.

But what then? Seeds in your hand:
teeth-nubbins, yellow-white.
There is no way to unknow what it
will be. First flowers unfold, then
gold: orange: a fruit. Sweet clear
taste. A soccer field years ago, green
grass-stained knees and a single slice,
sticky juice. Geese overhead. This is
an orange.

So what is tonight? Dinner with
my brother, a meal our mother
used to make. Hot wind, green
things growing. I won’t ask for more
or add anything else.
I’ll wait until the rind drops off
on its own.

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