Rob, my heart is a peeled clementine and I don't wince
anymore when you stick your thumb in the hollow middle,
pull apart. You don't even swallow these pieces
just set them underneath your bed (next to the safe box
Papi pried open because he was afraid you'd bought a gun.
It was actually a bundle of never posted letters to Obama
asking him for the money owed to you for having penned The Sixth Sense and A Beautiful Mind), and as this scent
of rotting citrus blossoms in the room we shared as children
--I can hear you murmur, your laugh echoing my scraping
at the wood of your door. Rob, I am splintered, drawn blood.
We both know how to slip medicine into milk, how to gift
each other with our backs. The hundred kinds of get out
someone can backhand against a name, take them all, palmed,
opened, don't be afraid that I'll ever try to walk through this door,
because the surface against my cheek is the only comfort you've shown
me in years. Rob, you always said clementines were too sweet.
Fold, shrivel, leave nothing behind but molded skin.
Added: Monday, July 14, 2014 / Used with permission.
Elizabeth Acevedo is the New York Times Bestselling author of The Poet X (Harper Collins, 2018). She holds a BA in Performing Arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Puerto Del Sol, Callaloo, and others. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her partner.
Elizabeth Acevedo was a Featured Poet for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2018. Visit the festival information page for more information.