Orange Peels

A poem by Lanika Yule, December 2019

Lanika Yule is a tender hearted scribe in possession of a Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies and Political Science from Simon Fraser University. In the Fraser Valley, nestled in between the mountains and the river, Lanika lives on land traditionally stewarded by the Stó:lō Nation. Her writing churns through themes of environmental degradation and embodiment, and applies a feminist lens to pick apart the spaces where these motifs intersect. She was most recently published in Anti Heroin Chic Magazine.

Beloved plays my crispy spine like a xylophone
Wringing pops out of a crooked bubblewrap back
Smoothing jewels from the knots in my brows
With deft thumbs
Gripping my hard edges.
Warming my throat with his hands melts the glaciers
of creeping frozen fears into a rushing spring thaw of tears streaming,
ribbon streamers from my curls
Burnishing my frostbitten marrow in the furnace of his palms

My hair and hips have grown since we met
but so his hands have swelled to hold them

My love unclamps my teeth with vice fingers:
Jaws of life pulling back steel and
retrieving my No’s and Please’s
from where they were laid to rest in turmoil,
Pushed below a deep grave of icy waters.
When I ask if the gas lights were low
He says “yes, but only you know
How dark it could get”

I’ve long feared operating heavy machinery
Strapping my shaky mind into a car
Rattling down the highway
Afraid to take the risk of wrapping my aluminum cage
Around an unsuspecting tree
I can’t turn myself into that kind of weapon
So he gets me where I need to go
Rotates my hips every hundred miles of trudging
Knows all my check engine lights
Wrote the manual from long nights in the field
When I could only curve my body into the shape of his
And soak in as much warmth and love and rest as I could wring –

He can spare it all.

He learnt acts of service from his grandmother
carefully peeling oranges
I witness her passing down
The love language of prepared fruit

I was taught to expect bitter seeds
And demand hand fed grapes
But I was unprepared for the tangy sugar
The pulp, the substance, the meat of it, the nitty gritty

Pomelo portions endless like his care – always in season
Oranges carved in soccer slices,
Clementines shed of whole peels
His love of pressing tongue, squeezing pulp, lapping juice til joy flows

Never a fan of pomegranate
He eats his share of the live grenade
I’ve carefully carved in to
Reveal grumey seeds in segments for
Fleshy offerings in fingers stained by garnet syrup
He’s seen it all and still he asks for more,
Palms out.