When my father asked me what the basis of our relationship was,
I couldn’t give him an answer. Now, as the aftertaste of it -
that bitter tang of overripe mandarins -
Sits heavy under my tongue and on my teeth, I can say,
it’s because I love fruit.
I saw you,
faded and frail, in early winter.
Had seen the promise of sweet giving, of tired roots aching for warmth,
You had tried to cut yourself down,
so I became your giving tree.
I tended to you, gave you many of my firsts.
In a way, so did you. At least that’s what you told me.
You had promised me growth.
That you would tend to me
As I did you. That we would create our own harvest.
Apple orchards, cherry blossoms, bountiful vineyards.
I had taken your word to heart.
It was sweet, cloying nectar.
I let it smother me, sink into my skin.
Let it seep into my veins.
Let it ferment.
I was drunk on your touch, worshipped
the saccharine velvet of your skin,
Like supple nectarines.
You didn’t mind the gentle scrape of teeth
or nails, of wandering lips, my curious hands teasing, testing.
Tracing the ink outlines of sacred swirls and ancient patterns
Adorning an ignorant and undeserving left arm.
Nor did you mind the growing rift, the root rot festering,
the mandarins that were left out on the counter on those hot nights,
the fruit fly that fed on them.
You could not be bothered to bat the fly away.
Worst of all, you forgot to mention
Orange never quite suited you.