I miss you. The city is cold
without you. I tripped over a seesaw
yesterday & you weren’t there
to yell at the bum who pushed me
in your winded, loping accent.
Do you still keep a plate of oranges
on the kitchen table? I used to dig
my fingers into ripeness, tender
rind congealing beneath my nails.
Now, I wish I didn’t see everything soft
as bruised, bent for blows. There’s something
nostalgic about destruction waged quietly,
when relative damage can only be reversed
by further desecration. After I leave,
you paint the walls vermillion to hide
a single bloodstain. Erasure only threatened
when invisibility strains. The fog rolling into rain.
Rain cleansing our city of smog. The years
run away from me, but now I know to hold
the door open. I learn to apologize for everything,
even the things I didn’t do, because memory
is a living thing & hindsight is evolutionary,
undergoing osmosis. The day I left
the sky was the color of blue raspberry sorbet
shot through with strawberry sauce. Honey
& an aftertaste of hope. Back then, I still thought
of the world in terms of sweet things.
Back then, I ate sliced oranges as the train
bulleted out of the city & everything stung
like citrus on an open wound.
Vivian Zhu is a Chinese-American writer from Adlai E. Stevenson High School. Her work is published in CHEAP POP, Eunoia Review, and Aster Lit. A lover of all things orange, she can be found peeling tangerines for her younger brother.