Orange I lift to my lips. Orange
I glimpse roadside: hibiscus and bird-
of-paradise, Florida’s Natural discardedbelow orange slip of sky, orange jumpsuit
that kindled my brother’s complexion
thrice. Orange visitors’ signs—livewhere you vacation—after no
outlet and short term parking turn
right. At the market, ten items or lessonly at the orange checkout light.
At the hospital, oncology and hematology
follow the orange line. Three weeksafter chemo I don’t recognize
my father in the orange cap, so I enter
his room twice. Once quick to anger,he says nothing but tugs on the lidless
Tropicana’s straw, juice spackling the Pall
Mall I never lit on the drive. Like the timeyears ago in a Home Depot, porcelain
tile the most perfect orange I ever saw, I never
heard my father ask if I wanteda Happy Meal before our last stop
to drop the last chlorine tablet in the last
snowbird’s pool. And when my mother askedthat night, I didn’t deny his broken
English embarrassed me, though I didn’t
know why she asked, her fingers tightaround the orange neck of orange
Pine-Sol. (Now discontinued.) Orange joke
on the popsicle dripping downmy hand—orange you glad
it’s summer?—my father rubbing his knees
in our future life. Orange sun eyelevel through a glass. Orange flash,
orange rain. Say the devil’s daughter marries
days like these. Orange meal schedulemy brother turns over. Orange paper
peeking from his pocket. My father
in the hospital recliner, rolling orangesacross the TV tray toward me. Orange slit
I split. Orange slice I bite hard, hold
the sour under my tongue.
Copyright © 2019 by Jessica Guzman Alderman
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Jessica Guzman Alderman’s work appears or is forthcoming in Pleiades, Ecotone, Tin House’s Broadside Thirty series, the Greensboro Review, and elsewhere. She received American Literary Review’s 2017 poetry award and Harpur Palate’s 2017 Milton Kessler Memorial Poetry Prize. A doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi, she reads for Memorious and Split Lip Magazine.
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