How to Eat an Orange
A child cries out for oranges hungers only for oranges
eats careless of juice careless of body
Or perhaps I mean in full embodiment of these—Which is joy’s pinnacle?
She ate with abandon I mean she did the opposite of abandoning her body,
sat in it like a lord. In the wealth of herself. In splendor.
But she had abandoned it—
her body strained against its limits to reach with every cell
for the bright smile of orange,
juice running down her arm,
that little dance she did to draw near to the plate,
that heat that collects around what a body longs for most:
sunny globe and plate and knife slicing
into the very heart of sweetness.
Giving her body up so she could sneak back in under cover of carelessness.
Lord of herself turned thief of herself and finally lord of herself again.
(And I who have been so long a thrall to possession, false god
of lovers, false star
in the multitude cloak of the firmament)
Letter to Be Opened Upon the Inevitable Event of My Death
That day in the kitchen
with the oranges
I had never seen anything
so holy as your hunger
and the way your body strained
If my ghost comes back
into your room at night
to crouch on the ceiling and stare
at you with eyes black with hunger
I do not mean to be the night mare
I only got lost on my way to the oranges,
to the kitchen, to your hand
reaching for mine, your voice calling more.
I will make more
I will build a whole universe
out of that moment
I will live in it a little while.
Margot the ghost is my hunger
the ghost is holy
Margot there was not enough
world for how long I need to look at you
I wanted to tell you I think there’s nothing
And the nothing is everything
Margot don’t be afraid, the first face you see
will be mine
I lied when I said beauty was no consolation;
it consoles me tonight
in the wet twilit neighborhood
where grief has driven me from my apartment
to seek the peonies in the stranger’s yard.
I’ve watched them shake themselves lightly
like birds whose plumage has been ruffled by rain,
and now they’re puffing themselves up,
trilling, making almost as much noise as the wealth
of sparrows and grackles decorating the trees,
and because grief is a blade pressed
against my skin (Oh Jill, how could you
have left us before my daughter
could make a memory of you to keep forever?),
the peonies seem to turn into flames flickering
in the deep night green of the bush,
flickering in concert with the pink light
of the day drained of its life, flickering
in a way another person might name “uncertainly”
but what I, pilgrim, come to be consoled, name
“divinely.” I stick my face into the heart of the god
flame. Fire both once and eternal, teach me
the scent of my surrender.