Citrus City

When I walk down Second Avenue
the first
sun-spent day of spring
and the scent of dropped
flowers spilled bottle of OE and mints
begins to burn from the asphalt and people
strip to the waist reminded me of some first urge
to be naked against the city air
(eight million breaths
at any given moment)
I see a boy devour
the last slice of an orange
and my mouth waters
so I buy one for myself
at the closest stand The citrus drips
down my wrists
from the corners of my lips
and I realize it’s been some time
since this joy: since
I’ve peeled and eaten an orange on the street
and it’s been some time
since I’ve seen anyone
eat an orange outside
I look into the eyes of Manhattanites who
look me in the mouth
and I think: perhaps she
tastes the same
tart under her tongue and maybe
she will head straight for a fruit stand and buy
a navel to eat on the street too
and someone
will see her or two people will see her love her skirt
sprayed with minuscule burst of juice
so they buy lots of oranges
eat one on the bus heading
uptown (toward all those oranges
in the Bronx) and the person stepping off
at twenty-third walks crosstown to Chelsea
surrenders his organic nut bar
stops at a fruit stand
and maybe someone en route to Chinatown
bumps into the guy from Chelsea
and remembers his
first orange
at a picnic

as a child
on a beach–
in the Philippines–
in August
So he buys two oranges
goes home to his lover
whose drape of sweat
smells like the day
and since he’s already eaten one along the way
they sit across from each other
and share
the remaining one:
its packed flesh a brief but cool
reprieve from the apartment
steaming like an engine
and this is how a whole city’s
eating oranges:
the first sun-spent spring day–
an orgy of them

Patrick Rosal

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