The Sweetest Oranges in Town

No, I am not deformed.
I wear these socks
Because I haven't any gloves,
And my fingers are bitten with frost.
They feel like stumps.
Luckily, I finished covering
The citrus tree with sheets of burlap.
Before darkness,
I will light a smudge pot
Near the mummified trunk,
Then anoint my hands in a blue salve.
Yesterday was cold
But the freeze is on now.
I must remind myself
Not to lick any cars.
Mr. Nishizawa, a house over,
Told me his nephew
Lost a fourth of his tongue
For that reason. Years ago,
The rosebushes were ruined to a freeze
And have never come back.
If needed, I will stay up all night
And pray, will let the hoarfrost
Burn in my chest. My grandfather
Ate the yield from this tree
After he died. I saw him.

Rick Noguchi, "The Sweetest Oranges in Town" from The Ocean Inside.  Copyright © 1996 by Rick  Noguchi.  All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Source: The Ocean Inside (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996)
More Poems by Rick Noguchi