Lauren Gibson – My Father
My father taught me to peel an orange today.
He has taught me many times,
But I still ask him to do it for me.
I watch as he gently tears the peel from the flesh,
And splits the segments from one another.
My father has taught me to think quietly.
I have seen him do so many times,
But I still blurt out my words.
I watch as I dig myself a hole
deeper than I am tall,
And rip at my hair in noisy frustration.
My father has taught me to ride bikes and fly kites and
My father has tried to teach me maths,
And although it still gets the better of me,
I try not to count on my fingers.
I have given up peeling oranges the way my father taught me.
I am not methodical and gentle like him: I rip
At the orange’s outer with my teeth to make an opening,
And then haphazardly pick the skin off until the orange is exposed,
Barely covered by a provocative chiffon nightgown of pith.
I am careful when I segment the orange though.
I slowly separate the segments into quarters,
just in case anyone wants to share.
If they don’t, I peel the segments apart and eat them
one by one, remembering my father’s lessons.
To cut an orange is impious.
To caress it gently is an act of god.