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Juicing Blood Oranges

CAS for Database

Ziyi Yan

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

                                                 shriek                    hysterically.

                                    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.


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