Maureen Thorson



from Applies to Oranges


Miscues in the greenery— can you find

the monkey, can you find the snake?

We all have found the heat mirage

boiling off the pier, the Christmas lights

tangled round the tastiest shrimp shack

in town. We've found cracked gray pictures

gummed in albums, and stripped

them slowly, fed them to a fire

of blue-then-orange flames. We've

all hid our feelings in the greenery

and when the greenery whistled,

we've set phasers to terminate, and

—no quarter asked, none given—

made sure no word escaped.



* * *



The politician wins the debate by proving

his opponent will cause a nuclear war.

The voters can't let things end that way,

and in a foreign city, white with tile,

an ad for orange juice puts you in mind

of an island rifled with spiders, the ship

that took you away. You wonder how

that would go down. The anchorman

behind the glass the only one who

can let the world know: coordinates

are programmed. God help us all. In

the boiling heat behind your eyelids'

red screens, you see me standing

at the quay, and then your eyelids darken

as the horizon lines give way.




* * *


I halve the rooster's heart again

and when the feathers fly, bronze

in September's low-lying sun, you return

to me in triplicate, big-screen beauty.

I see you striding through the down

and dust, blood spattered on your ankles,

your thin dress folding around your knees.

You've got an orange in each pocket,

and you walk by death with your head

held high, into the house and its shadow.

You've made your peace with sacrifice.

Now what you want is something to keep

you going, something that's ready to eat.