Long days in Guayaquil
when there was nothing
and in the afternoons, nothing
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaturned into more nothing—
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaI begged my Abuelita for a snack,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauntil she put down her cuchara
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaIand reached for her sharpest knife.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaChoosing the juiciest-looking orange
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafrom the basket on the floor,
I watched her, kitchen towel on her lap,
wearing one of the many dresses
she drew and stitched for herself.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaTongue between her teeth:
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaashe sliced a notch into the skin,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaajust deep enough to leave
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaathe white pith intact, turning it
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaainch by inch. It was a miracle,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahow she could transform
a thing. And carving steadily,
an orange ribbon curled upon her lap,
recomposing into a hollow sphere,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas if the skin wasn’t ready to let go
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawhat took so long to ripen inside; its body
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarotating between her crooked fingers.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaNothing for me to do but watch, maybe
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaateach myself, the trick to unraveling—
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaunravel bitterness like gauze,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaunravel the girl I was from the girl I could be.
The final cut released the heavy coil,
landing useless in her lap, and
plunging her knife into the top,
she cut out a fragrant cone of juicy flesh,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapopped it whole in her mouth,
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand laid a new creation in my palm:
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaathe opening let me suck out all the juice
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaathe soft body
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalet me squeeze out
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaevery sweet drop.