Thursday, February 19, 2009

Orange Peel

I peel a lot of oranges. Two friends asked me to peel their oranges for them today, saying I do it better than they do. It's simple, really: Dig the thumbnail into the thick skin (releasing a spray of orange-scent), through the orange outer layer into the spongy yellow-white interior, but stop at the fruit flesh itself. Don't pierce the membrane, but push the thumb along, splitting the peel ahead of it.

I push my thumb in a spiral, so the peel drops away in one long S-shape. It falls onto the table, coyly curved, twisted and scented and brightly colored. Oranges smell like summer afternoons, when the hot sun heats the sidewalk and the air hums with squiggling heat waves; like curling up in the sun (cat-like); like skipping across the lawn, barefoot; like a sudden smile.

The peel anoints my hands with citrus oil. My fingers turn old and weathered with a coating of wax and orange-residue, but the backs of my hands glow with juice and oil. Pieces of the peel cling under my fingernails. My hands will smell like summer for hours.

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