by Paige Ellen Passantino


My sister eats oranges, throws the rinds on the ground. I know of a man who plays the guitar in an abbey: he is there now. His instrument’s belly tucked amongst his knees. Sister: discarding grainy strips, white bottomed & stringy, tossed onto gravel. She sucks her fingers. I know he is there: I have seen him. I am somewhere between the two of them, in a detox in Greenfield. Someone is shaking. On the outside of the jar, I stare in at the group, stuck there and zoo-d, want to cry that I was once them, belonging, but I am imagining Kiana’s hand tugging on my sleeve, asking for an orange. All I have left is lemon and rotted. She picks up the skins her mother has left behind, gulps: opens her mouth into tangerine mouthguard. Someone else is crying, her legs gathered on a plastic couch. I speak to them from a podium. The crying woman asks me after how I believed that there was ever getting better. I think of the man I walked past everyday, even when raining. I faked it, I tell her. I forget to add the body followed. Narcan training, they tell us of a new drug that spreads across the skin post-injection. Someone else is swaying, hands clutched to purpley arm. Tells me she will lose her hand but it won’t stop her from using. Her fist is crumpled shut, and upon its opening, I see the clenched remains of oranges: the shucked shellings of my sister. I wrote that man a letter, threw it in the guitar case instead of ever giving cash. Too often I emptied my pockets to just find oranges. After the detox, I look up. The moon is like a snare drum’s face. I regret ever being younger.


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