Shenandoah Volume 68, Number 1
Volume 68, Number 1 · Fall 2018

Florida Orange

Orange I lift to my lips. Orange

I glimpse roadside: hibiscus and bird-

of-paradise, Florida’s Natural discarded

below orange slip of sky, orange jumpsuit

that kindled my brother’s complexion

thrice. Orange visitors’ signs—live

where you vacation—after no

outlet and short term parking turn

right. At the market, ten items or less

only at the orange checkout light.

At the hospital, oncology and hematology

follow the orange line. Three weeks

after chemo I don’t recognize

my father in the orange cap, so I enter

his room twice. Once quick to anger,

he says nothing but tugs on the lidless

Tropicana’s straw, juice spackling the Pall

Mall I never lit on the drive. Like the time

years ago in a Home Depot, porcelain

tile the most perfect orange I ever saw, I never

heard my father ask if I wanted

a Happy Meal before our last stop

to drop the last chlorine tablet in the last

snowbird’s pool. And when my mother asked

that night, I didn’t deny his broken

English embarrassed me, though I didn’t

know why she asked, her fingers tight

around the orange neck of orange

Pine-Sol. (Now discontinued.) Orange joke

on the popsicle dripping down

my hand—orange you glad

it’s summer?—my father rubbing his knees

in our future life. Orange sun eye

level through a glass. Orange flash,

orange rain. Say the devil’s daughter marries

days like these. Orange meal schedule

my brother turns over. Orange paper

peeking from his pocket. My father

in the hospital recliner, rolling oranges

across the TV tray toward me. Orange slit

I split. Orange slice I bite hard, hold

the sour under my tongue.

Jessica Guzman Alderman’s work appears or is forthcoming in Pleiades, Ecotone, Tin House’s Broadside Thirty series, the Greensboro Review, and elsewhere. She received American Literary Review’s 2017 poetry award and Harpur Palate’s 2017 Milton Kessler Memorial Poetry Prize. A doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi, she reads for Memorious and Split Lip Magazine