The Orange in the Crystal Bowl

I watched an orange rot, but never touched it.

I walked past it every morning and almost took it;

almost dug my fingers into its rippled flesh;

almost tore into the meat of it; but, at the last moment,

I changed my mind. Each time I passed my hand over it

I saw it quiver, but, rather than take it, I made a fist.

No, maybe tomorrow, I said, maybe, I’ll take it tomorrow,

when my mood is oranges, when I feel like lust.

But, I never took it. I left it in the crystal bowl.


One day, when I saw that it didn’t quiver, when I saw

that it was going to sag and whiten, I shut my eyes;

and every day after, I held my breath. What had been

bright, supple, and full of tart juices that would burst

in my face and burn the corners of my mouth,

was greening and becoming putrid waiting on my last

two-finger head-turned grip, a touch that would

complete its final ritual. But I couldn’t, death and

garbage don’t become me, so I covered it with a

paper towel and moved its crystal bowl to the porch.


Alice took it away and washed the bowl, and she

gave me that little sideways-narrowed-eyes look,

and never said a word. She didn’t have to, we’ve

been together a long time, maybe too long, maybe

through too many silent circumstances, I don’t know.


When we married she was beautiful, someone to look at.

Her blushed face and lace covered bodice drew me,

but I didn’t touch her because it wasn’t right.

It was enough for me to feel her vibrations,

smell her powders, watch the red on her lips.


One day, before I really knew what was happening,

she began to be less particular about how we would

look together, not really concerned about my admiration.

I could tell she had begun to have doubts about the

things people see, like seeing was somehow not enough,

like it was the cause of something, a miasma;

and I, too, began to doubt. Now, we just live in

the same house. We talk sometimes, but not often.

She buys the oranges and puts them into the

crystal bowl, but I never touch them, never.




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