John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

Poet's Corner: Oranges


The first time I went out
With a girl, I was thirteen,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my pocket.
December. Frost cracked
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
This girl's house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
On her gloves, face bright
With makeup. I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were standing
In front of a drugstore.
We entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleahcers,
And asked my girl what she wanted—
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth. I fingered
A nickel in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn't say anything.
I took the nickel from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter. When I looked up
The saleslady's eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was about,
Love, I mean.

   Outside the drugstore,
A few cars racing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the wintry trees.
I took my girl's hand
In mine for two short blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap her chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
the gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

Gary Soto (born 1952)

Tags: poet's corner

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