My Motherís Tangerines
My mother's tangerines are weighted.
She turns them over and picks out the
heftiest ones at the market, holds them up
to inspect and mirrors the sheen of morning
light on their rinds, thumbing over the
freckles that dot their surface, her fingers
running over all that orange.
Mother reminds us to keep the tangerine
peels for her when we eat the fruit, nails
digging into flesh and shearing back skin
to reveal a paler shine beneath, a pleated octave,
each wedge a wrapped note, a latticed crescent,
an echoed question. Under her gaze,
we strip our tangerines.
She keeps the rinds in a glass bottle,
soaks them in baking soda until the water
turns orange. She shakes the solution and
unscrews the cap, uses the liquid to wash
the dishes. Mother wants life as organic and
elementary as possible. We wash the plates again
with detergent when she leaves
to rid the grease.
Mother wants me to choose the tangerines
with her, but never fancies any of the fruits
I favour. Instead, I hold the film of plastic
taut as she bags the citruses. She extols
the charm of vitamins and antioxidants,
tells me to take better care of my skin
so the boys will like me.
She does not consider any of the boys I
handpick supple enough, measured and worth
their weight in pulp. I watch my mother breathe
through her pores like the orange of a tangerine.
I observe how she selects her fruits with care,
how she guards my heart to prevent me from
falling into any other kind of love.
By Faye Ng Yu CiQLRS Vol. 22 No. 3 Jul 2023