in hand, I search the dimpled exterior
for the navel’s pliable bulge
and pierce the shining surface with thumbnail.
The spongy tissue between peel and sack of juice
expires a clean, penetrating scent.
I proffer the odiferous opening
to my small but standing son,
who only recently has learned, albeit open-mouthed,
the art of sniffing.
Smells good, doesn’t it?
He smiles but pulls away.
I separate chunk after moist chunk
from the outer membrane until
an unseen mist stings my eye,
reminding me how I hated peeling oranges
as a child: the discolored fingers,
jamb-packed nails, burning lips, and dry teeth.
When, I ask myself, will I transfer
the responsibility of peeling and sectioning
to this boy? Were I to follow my impulse
and manage the task through his school years,
dropping perfectly naked, unleaking quarters
into plastic bags for him to enjoy,
of what would I deprive him?
What tanginess should he have? What bitterness
is necessary? When does clear, sweet juice
begin to cloy?
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Copyright © 2008 by Bradley Steffens
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