An innocent enough gesture, the placing of a
mesh bag of tangerines into a basket, among
golden raisins, coffee beans, carton of cream -
a crumpled list somewhere underneath.
You wheel on, past butter, milk and eggs, taking
what you need. Past the glass case of birthday
cakes, the man slicing coldcuts in the deli,
past rye and pumpernickel and magazines.
No longer noticing these things that always
speak of pleasure and plenty, you are
miles and miles away, across state lines,
caught up in different weather patterns,
different causes for concern.
But it is still January.
Winter is citrus season, season of memories.
Of blood orange, pink grapefruit, tangelo.
You can lose yourself in aisles of trees,
branches heavy, smudge pots burning
like incense. You can lose yourself
in a citrus grove,
in the past,
in another January,
far from piles of brightness
in a produce section.
Lucky is the friend of a grove owner whose
very nature is abundance. He helps you
fill brown grocery bags with fruit at
Sunday dusk before the school week begins
and teaches you a great truth as well:
the best ones are anything but beautiful,
mottled and thin-skinned, their goodness
lost to the unknowing.
Fill, fill the treat sacks with all you can,
as if it were October. Ahead,
two men amble,
heads bent in conversation.
This could be an olive grove,
a lemon grove,
a field of sunflowers.
This could be the happiest day of your life!
The only twinge of melancholy a glimpse of
migrant camps in the distance.
Later, sorting prizes to the hum of
an ancient juicer, you can't imagine
the price these jewels will command
some day, the price you'll pay for
remembering. It's almost too much
to bear now, when a single mesh bag
is all you bring home.
But it will have to do.