Christmas Orange

The Inner World of the Orange

My mother’s most beloved trick: take a simple orange,
turn it into pure sorrow. She did this in the manner
of a spell, a story (the same story over, over). The dark
handkerchief of her words whisked away, and presto
the dour ’30s, a girl whose teeth vibrated with ache, who
walked barefoot in snow. Who received one orange each year
in her Christmas sock. The story really began here—with her
hand rolling the cool pebbled flesh across her cheek
in that farmhouse so bitter she could see her breath.
With her inhaling its sweet citrus rodeo, wheeling it
along her sill. Sketching it with her last stubby crayon
for posterity. Telling her diary about the sunny supple star
from which it travelled to her. Positioning her thumb in its
softest point then stopping herself, praying for strength
to resist. Truth was, this is a modern girls’ story (the moral:
defer, defer) more than a saga of peasants rising from the
    dead
fires of their own hungers, as martyrs. After all, consider
the inner world of the orange—labial, lush, lost,
utterly lost at the first fissure in its pulpy stockade.
More fallen, even, than the common apple.
This all happened prior to me, which must make me
the logical conclusion, the sequel, if you like, to
the orange story, the sad document of a woman’s ultimate
    defeat,
the daughter who, like the wedding guest, must stop her life,
    must listen.

Jeanette Lynnes

Who’s Jeanette Lynnes?

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