Picking Oranges

How to be honest and dishonest:

He asks where I have been
I respond, “picking oranges”

I know it is not what he meant, and
he knows I have not been picking oranges
in my backyard for three weeks

I stand at the fruit bowl
convinced it is not quite a lie

(Begun in 2019 as an essay; finished July 22, 2020)

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Praying Twice

Whenever someone says “Ben”
I think first of my older brother.
My mother might be bittersweetly
happy that he is alive in that way.

I know if I tell her this she will
respond with the story of
when they brought him home
from the hospital to die and
that he lasted for seven days.

She often tells stories more than once.
Sometimes I will interrupt to say
I have heard this one before
and sometimes I listen to words
whose endings I already know.

I listen about Ben,
thinking that it might be
helpful, that it might be like
praying the same prayer twice.

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Hibernate/Rest

What do I do
with an empty wind
when the air hangs still
and the birds have flown on
goodbyes are made hours earlier
and the clinging leaves of summer
aren’t what they were when summer began

and now the leaves no longer try to stay
the darkwater lake laps up cold, quiet
and when the air picks up again
it is no longer a warm breeze
but tattered and flailing
a chill blowing
through us

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Spilled Coffee

Last week I made coffee
but forgot to put the pot
under the machine, and
walked away as it brewed
across my stove burners

I’ll never be a good woman
if measuring myself the way
he did, in a world where I’d
not known my kitchen and
my hemline was too short

Not often I face the damage
of the messages in which I
wade, nor pull them from
my own thoughts; I clean the
spill as if solving a problem


(November 16, 2019)

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