Originally published in Third Coast, as reprinted in
the 2009 Pushcart Prize XXXIII Best of the Small Presses.
Love in the Orangery
When you see a seventy-pound octopus squeeze
through a hole the size of a half-dollar coin, you
finally understand that everything you learn about
the sea will only make people you love say You lie.
There are land truths that scare me: a purple orchid
that only blooms underground. A German poet
buried in the heart of an oak tree. The lighthouse man
who used to walk around the streets at night
with a lighted candle stuck into his skull. But winters
in Florida--all the street corners have sad fruit
tucked into the curb, fallen from orangery truckers
who take corners too fast. The air is sick with citrus
and yet you love the small spots of orange in walls
of leafy green as we drive. Your love is a concrete canoe
that floats in the lake like a lead balloon, improbable
as a steel wool cloud, a metal feather. This is the truth:
I once believed nothing on earth could make me say magic.
You believe in the orange blossom tucked behind my ear.
--by Aimee Nezhukumatathil