I’d like to shade my sun-dried scalp
and snap my joints
under this tangerine tree,
Climb down from this tall ladder,
Pour my sack of citrus in a crate
and take a seat on a thick root
like the lap of one of them brown girls.
I’d been prunin back lime leaves
earlier this season, but Mr. Anders
sent me straight home when
he found green fruit in my slacks.
First he drew a pocket knife,
Made a slit in the lime
and a cut in my palm.
He put the fruit to my flesh,
squeezed my fingers in a fist, and
had me drippin acid juice and blood.
Marla’s eyes stung like my cut,
Standin there teary in her powdered apron,
Holdin a rollin pin to her patty of dough.
She’d wan’ed limes for her pie
yah see, to bake away that damn stillborn, so
soon as I swung the screen door before six,
Marla knew there’d been trouble.
The brown men from the border
found more pay at the shoe factory up North
a few weeks ago, so Mr. Anders called me in
to pick his tangerines.
Marla hasn’ asked for any tangerines yet, but
she did say my hands smell like
her daddy’s did.