Selling Oranges

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Don’t dwell on the knife,
a switchblade, he imagined
he Excalibured from granite

not a pocket of lint. On the bus
he follows you, mutters about country
No room for you / in his country.

His heckling decorates. Go back to your
drapes down your chest, a snake-stole
flicking you with faux tongues

tasting for fear. Praying, you reach
down to have something
to grip, to close a fist around.

It’s not a Hail Mary you find
but an orange,
round and cool, unbruised yet.

You cup the sweet rind,
heavy with pulp, ripe
with the word

country. Not with blood
but the weight of bones
buried deep in time

like seeds,
the kind needing fire
to blister apart, to burn.

For a moment, you return
to the top of the mountain
where you were born

fire-baptized, where bullets were
butterflies that floated high
in the air

where the static crack
of their wings drove you north,
on the stained glass

backs of monarchs, migrating
above the pew-pop,
the rat-tat-tat.

You smell blood
orange now between
your fingers.

You touch the bitter
slick to your lips,
an intercession.

Because you won’t
let him, here, unfurl
his heart of darkness

over yours, no—
because this is yours
now. This bus, this fighting

cage, this second-hand
land is your land now
even if the terroir taints

the other cheek red. Listen,
you want to say to him.
You’ve known bullet and blade

been coarsened by wars
started by men hollower than thou
and you know the only truth—

Knife’s edge is sharp
but it won’t cut
through rind.

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About Author

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Genevieve DeGuzman writes poetry and fiction. Her poems appear in Cimarron Review, Five:2:One, Folio, Hobart, Iron Horse Literary Review, RHINO, phoebe, Switchback, and elsewhere. She is a 2020 Best New Poets nominee and was a 2019 James Merrill Poetry Fellow from the Vermont Studio Center. Based in Portland, Oregon, she is currently working on a poetry collection and a novel. Find her at genevievedeguzman.carbonmade.com and on Twitter @gen_deg.

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