Issue 24 | Winter 2020

Oranges Shared

Then that spring-to-summer near our door, 
one aged orange tree made bloom on the air: 
flower and scent to smallest fruit to green- 
skinned and lemon tart, those branches 
ever deeper-arced, until a mild sweetness 
piqued the bitter and slow days later 
the bitter become oranges as we’d known them, 
then sudden-sugared as never had we known them, 
oranges iconic, oranges Platonic—any meal, 
too many, we could not not eat them, 
skins fragile then, fermentation exquisite, 
and last a heaven of wasps and birds, 
a wreckage of rinds and rot. Leaves went. 
Rains came. The roof leaked. 
And from work or late errand come back 
in the dark (that light over the rented stoop 
ever shorted out), we elbowed and jostled 
to push open the one stuck door…

Now, quiet out, sun up, just, 
as he peels a clementine, 
little citric fountains at fingers and thumb, 
globed fruits sectioned, one of them, two, 
half a century of mornings, and as she walks in, 
she says, My nose tells me oranges.  

Filed under: Poetry

Lex Runciman is the author of six books of poems, most recently Salt Moons (Salmon Poetry, 2017). An earlier volume won the Oregon Book Award. He and his wife live in Portland, Oregon.