Still Life

Jacqueline Hincapie

The crate of oranges has gone bad

on the counter next to the kitchen sink,

eleven dying suns in varying degrees of decay.

My mother pushes the last good one toward me

saying if I don't eat it, it'll go bad like the others.

She looks older this morning,

her skin sagging into itself

forming the creases and lines she studies

for hours in the mirror.

We ate oranges on New Years' Eve, making a wish

for every segment of fruit.

Our chins sticky with juice, our lips

stinging with citrus as the big ball dropped.

Mouths fragrant and wet—I think every kiss

should be told in orange.

I peel the thick rind using my thumbnail as a knife,

careful to keep it one long segment.   My mother watches

as I place the fruit on my tongue, squeezing

juice from every bit of pulp.

She believes her body has betrayed her.