Claudia Ann Seaman Award
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juicing Blood Oranges
Riverside, CT, USA
Greenwich High School
Refrigerator-damp oranges weigh down the scale of my palms.
Salt tears streak down the back of my dress, but
I won’t turn to see that he’s not standing there.
No more dewy murmurs blistering
against my skin, crawling before a crippled god.
No more waiting before
him and his glistering eyes and simpering voice,
him and his bone-colored ceilings and plastic walls leave me to my cutlery.
Palms press against two ends of a wedge, the bloody skins tremble.
I hold the dull knife like a pencil and make the damp wood
I squeeze the purple lobes between my fists,
watch them writhe like lesions and legions of petals
at his feet.
My hands drip with broken flesh, strangle juice
into the leeching bowl. I make him watch
as I dig out his share of the rot
with cuticles outlined in bleeding sap and colored in neatly.
I’ll clutch his hand and say that ugly heat I feel is love,
his stories can hemorrhage through me all they want,
his, his, all of his,
yes, dessert will be done before dinner is ready,
and the next cut I make because I cannot cut away my own
body, I’ll pretend I’m hacking off
his purpled handprints
at the wrists.
Sometimes the most important stories are the painful ones. “Juicing Blood Oranges” does not shy away from the gravity of its narrative, nor does it resist its own cruelty; it is a thoroughly evocative reflection on toxic relationships, filled with dark images even when describing something so simple—on the surface—as squeezing an orange. Its raw reminiscence and visceral scene-setting make this piece hard to forget.
Ziyi Yan (闫梓祎) is a young Chinese writer living in Connecticut. She is an alumnus of the Iowa Young Writers' Studio and the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship. Her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards on a national level. She was a poetry finalist for the BreakBread Literacy Project, and the winner of the Piedmont Institution Communications Contest. In addition to writing, she loves watching old One Direction interviews, blasting karaoke in the middle of the night, and annoying her younger sister.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR