Eating an Orange by Gayathiri Kamalakanthan

Creative Writing

Gayathiri Kamalakanthan’s poem was shortlisted in the Best Single Poem category for the Disabled Poets Prize 2024.

The winners will be announced on 16 March 2024, during Deptford Literature Festival, in an online event.

 

Eating An Orange 

© Gayathiri Kamalakanthan 2024

 

I end the call and empty my schedule for the week. It takes 7 emails & the same voicenote sent to 3 group chats. You’re not dead. Not yet. Which makes it harder. Harder to plan, harder to cancel, to travel, to eat. Let’s say grief is an orange with an unending number of segments. How many segments do I have to eat before I get used to the taste? 

A hospital room: indifferent, claggy, fitting. 

When we wait together, I sit by your feet. You watch me with wide-open eyes. I have one hand in a book of poems and one hand in yours. 

Clutching. 

You do it well, this end bit of living. We share an orange in silence. The peel grafts itself new skin, the segments re-form. I’ve blocked out 1-8PM for this. There is something still majestic and very you about your grip. I sing a bhajan and wow, you smile. The nurse confirms it. Perhaps segmenting an orange isn’t all bad. 

In the family chat, I write He definitely smiled. Then delete it. My mother and sisters are having a night off. I imagine they are bathing or dozing or otherwise engaged in leisure, miraging themselves a single orangeless dinner.