Surviving on Oranges
In 1977, just before I left for California, I walked the streets of Warsaw, Poland in pain. Cancer, I thought. Mama had it, Tata had it, so I must have it. My body kept rejecting even the best local foods – garlicky kielbasa, fatty szpyrka, the pig feet – even if I could get them: Poland was full jails and empty shelves.
"Go to the land where the oranges grow," Mama often said, when I was growing up. Finally, at 33, I was going. Only, to die.
The moment California hugged me to her hills, my pains had stopped. I gorged myself on the fruit, thwarting a lifelong thirst. For months, I could eat nothing but oranges. My pain was not cancer, but Poland.
woke up at dawn
breathing oranges –
noisy with birds