"Fed"

Sometimes, instinct called me
from my books to witness,
and I’d lean on the Formica counter,
watching her fingers.

There is a delicate point
just after rind is dislodged,
white fibers threaded,
and fascia loosened,
membrane by membrane.
There is a delicate point,
a micron,
a moment,
before an orange
dissolves into liquidity,
yields its chambers,
offers its bulbous cells
to pink-tongued destiny.

My grandmother knew
just when to pause
and let the gelatinous gems
slide into a melamine bowl,
knew just how many of those gems
comprised appropriate indulgence
two hours before a savory dinner —
one product of one day
within one century of labor.

I slurped and sighed
and never knew
I was eating love.

"Fed" first published in Indianapolis Review

Notes: My grandmother is a force of nature, who continues to perform innumerable acts of service for her family. Using the pathway of a treasured childhood memory, I wanted to "get inside" one of those acts of service and pull it apart like — appropriately enough — the sections of an orange. And after getting inside, I wanted to honor it, and by extension, her. (When I translated this poem for my grandmother, she laughed her head off, not understanding why I’d choose such a mundane act — or her — as subject matter.)

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