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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.


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