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Oranges, memory

by Natasha Arora
New Delhi, 2013

In the season of citrus
tiny suns on fruit carts
flush orange against the fog.
I buy one and dig my nails
beneath skin. Ride these waves
of scent with me:
see me, small girl,
reaching for the lowest fruit
on my parents’ backyard tree,
dribble of juice drying white
on my chin. See the land where
my parents took root: hills of
withering grass, thick oaks marking
time, each winter welcomed
by a burst of citrus.
Years later, I’ll hand a tangerine
to my lover, our palms will
enclose over that golden orb, around them
settles the fog

              like this fog over the city
where my parents lived
before they knew each other,
where my grandparents’ bodies
returned to orange flame. Here,
no one looks at me twice
until I mangle their language.

Walk with me to the market
my father remembers from his college days.
Somewhere there was the gate he jumped
to reach the cinema. It’s gone now:
                                     negative space.
Somewhere, the imprint of my mother
on a rooftop in her corner of the city
dipping oranges in salt.

My father is graying now. My mother
misplaces her eyeglasses. Wrinkles surface
around their eyes, like white
fibers I peel from the fruit.

What is left to tell you?
The orange is gone now, skin scattered
among trash, flesh swallowed,
even the seeds lodged somewhere
deep in the throat.
What remains is scent on fingers
              thin ghost of color
   slipping into fog.

Natasha Arora_author photoNatasha Arora was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She earned a minor in creative writing at UC Berkeley, where she studied and taught poetry with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Saba Husain #

    I really enjoyed your poem, its sensuous colors and fragrances evoking the past.

    July 14, 2014

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