O TANGERINE by Christina Hauck

Buying one I thought of my mother, dead three months.
How she loved the easy peel, the seediness!

Long ago on Christmas morning I discovered
A tangerine pushed into the toe of my stocking.

Loving better the cheap, swiftly broken toys—
A yo-yo, a plastic watch—what did I know?

Tonight I strip the rind with my teeth.
Bitter. Bury the shine in the trash.

Tasting it segment by segment I hear the rain
Rattle beer cans piled in my neighbor’s yard.

In the gilt-covered cardboard box, Mother’s ashes
Dream between Ulysses and Invisible Man.

One day soon we’ll scatter them along the Pacific.
So disintegrated, will she find peace?

She craved the winter grapes I wouldn’t buy her.
Somebody did. I see her reading in yellow light

A bunch of black tokay close at hand.
O, what guilt will gnaw a daughter clean?

Last night I dreamed a row boat lost at sea,
A galley where Mother simmered and stirred.

Woke up hungry, cold under down. Even then
The storm dropping its veil of rain past my window.

Segment by segment the day passed.
First coffee, then decaf. Scrambled eggs for lunch.

The cats and I huddle around the wall furnace.
No evergreen leavens this room. Heaps of paper

And books. Old wreathes of cobwebs.
The days only seem longer. I’m swallowing light.

It burns, sharp and orange inside me.

two moths on tangerine half
Leafwing, Tropical by Aland Schmierer. CC license.

Christina Hauck
Christina Hauck grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Manhattan, Kans. in 1994, where she taught literature at Kansas State University for several decades. She and her wife moved to Lawrence, Kans. at the beginning of this year. Her poems have appeared in Americas Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Critical Quarterly, among other publications.

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