Poetry: Rishona Michael

Blood Oranges

It begins to smell like spring
when my mother opens the windows—
makes her famous lemonade

and I begin to crave wearing skirts.
I wear one today and focus on imitating life
through art—painting what I see. Which is

mom putting away the clorox to replace
It with the citrus needed. I help when a call
says that my aunt had been robbed

and stabbed. There’s not much to say
so instead I pour sugar into the pitcher.
and think about kissing the grocery clerk

in the parking lot when I was
so strong—he drove into a fire last night.
Mom starts slicing the lemons and limes

so I focus on what I know—
that blood oranges can stain
palms and drinks and clothes.

I still slice into them for lemonade
knowing that the sweet sugar with
the tangy always turns into the color

of sunset tears, always tastes like kissing
the grocery clerk—that summer before
he drove into a fire. Death is so quiet.

I screamed when I lost my virginity, but
apparently it’s normal to bleed when being
pressed into. What I do not know is whether

I am strong enough. I squeeze the
last droplets out which drop like blood.
Another call says an aunt just gave birth—

she had a C section so my mother
brings out the tall glasses and we sip
on tears too sweet. I cut into another

for the purpose of its juice.


Rishona is a current MFA poetry student at Sarah Lawrence College and a full time server at 5Napkin Burger. She and her rescued German Shepherd recently moved to NYC after she graduated from Emerson College. Both are enjoying the food, and the art, and the lights--but mainly the food.