Vitamin C – Jen Emery

Vitamin C

Already halfway out the door, you turn,
almost as an afterthought, and give me
clementines – To wish you better, you say.
Just like old times, I offer the closing door.
I feel their weight, the scratchy red net, the fruit
straining and bouncing, mad and happy. I tear
the net with my teeth, take the first fruit, pierce
the tight skin with my thumbnail, and feel the release,
the gust of sweet citrus scent. I pull
the segments apart with a certain care, and place them
moon by moon round the rim of a white plate.
I lift noon to my lips and bite the firm,
floral flesh. I eat around the plate
like a meditation, watching the spaces between
the segments widen. Wait. Then take
another fruit and begin again. All day
I eat, until my hands are sticky, nails stained,
my tongue numb, the red net slack and spent.
The pile of rind is fragrant and disheveled
and it seems to me that this, at last, is hope –
improbably pert and shining, and smelling like clementines.

Jen Emery writes poems, business books and shopping lists. She lives in London with four unruly children and a dog, and looks after people and culture for a global design and engineering firm. She thinks, writes and speaks, usually in that order, at

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