“lemon mouth” By Jadyn Lee

i remember how
when you spoke english
it grated into your mouth the way grandma used
a microplane and citrus zest, all
blender-juice syllables and sandpaper edges,
LAHN-lee instead of lonely
GOOD DEY instead of grieving
& i remember the way your eyes looked
like plums, soft, bruised
dark, mouth curving in a lemon peel smile
the way the skin rumpled over your knuckles –
like leather, maybe, or mulberry pulp –
those same hands
cooking chicken soup on sick days
curling skin from bare lemon flesh
for chicken marinade.

grandpa, i wish i could have made
a lemon meringue pie out of your sadness
so that maybe your good deys would be good days
and your lahn-lee-ness would quiet
& i wish we had known how to
make balm for when the days turned sour
so that your mouth would not peel back
into a pale shadow of grief,
so that the skin under your eyes
would not swell into tired cherries.
picasso could have painted this:
man living the aftermath of pith-flecked absence
man living the aftermath of nine year old girls crying,
“grandma is gone!”
all shaded in crayola blue.

i hope where you are now, lemon trees bow to greet you
and you can pluck fruit easily from their branches –
that the sky is as blue as you imagined,
that people fly with wings
through clouds made of cotton candy and something divine.
& lastly
i hope where you are now
if you are even somewhere now
you can sit down at a table for two
and say,
could i please order a lemon meringue pie?”

Jadyn Lee is a high school junior who attends an all-girls school in California. She is quite fond of prose and poetry and reads and writes as much as possible. This is her second time submitting work to a literary magazine.


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