The solitary orange tree of my youth was a scrawny thorned thing approached on lazy afternoons, supper a long ways away. The air choking. So thick, it was as if I had drowned. The citrus’s skin split easily, thrown against the deck father had built. That falling sound of lonely.
Me still a youth, knife-less; lips to skin, sucking the tang of its sour juice, savoring. Already party to the sorrow of summer fruits. The sweet sticky dripping quickly gone. Peaches and cherries falling in & out of season.
In & out and in & out.
Until I was no longer young. Until I was no longer knife-less, preferring the juice worked by my unadorned hand. Sustained by a scrawny tree still standing. Unburnt despite wildfire, flourishing despite drought. Flesh even termites refused. The heartwood strong enough to break their mandibles.
Em Faerman’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Psychopomp Magazine, The Wrong Quaterly, Five on the Fifth and Where’s My Tiara. She works as an engineering technician in Southeast Florida.