John Grochalski

Two Oranges

John Grochalski

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we are no hungrier

than any other two people on this train


although i think about peeling the two oranges

one in my bag one in my wife’s


feeding on them like everyone else seems to do

when in transit in this city


some mornings these trains look like full catered breakfasts

when not disguised as a hair and make-up salon


we were just at the oncologist’s office


my wife checked out good

like she has for the past six months


but all of that worry while we were there

it felt like hunger


going over cancer again and again leaves a hollow ache


it’s strange being the two youngest people

in the doctor’s office


strange and it can bring you down if you let it


my wife and i lose the fine art of conversation

when we’re in that office

and only regain it after when we’re back on the street


the doctor has a ton of picasso prints on his walls

the cubist stuff that i really don’t like


if we were looking at them in a museum

i’d tell my wife that i’m not a fan of cubism

and then we’d move on to something else like degas


this has nothing to do with being hungry

or the two oranges in our bags


but my wife and i still aren’t really talking on the train


so i pass the time focusing on picasso

and how hungry i am


there is only one other person on the train

an old woman eating a bag of peanuts


she’d just finished a bag of barbecue chips

and a bag of pretzels beforehand


she’s not helping things along


a few stops before we’re supposed to get off

i see my wife turn to the woman


i lean in, catch the woman say

i said, do you have anything to eat?


my wife looks at me, shows me her salad

says, i have enough money in my wallet for something else


i look at the bandage on her hand

where they drew blood like they draw blood every month


i take the orange out of my bag

give it to my wife to give to the woman


my wife takes her orange out too

although i don’t want her to because of blood sugar levels


although we’re probably way past that worry


the woman takes both oranges

and only says, both? after they are in her bag


yes, my wife says, both


god bless you, the woman says

as we’re getting off the train


i wish that i could say it felt like a benediction

but we’ve both got eight hours of work to get through


and by four in the afternoon

someone is going to be emailing someone else

about being hungry and depressed


wishing they had a big juicy orange to eat. 



John Grochalski


John Grochalski is a published writer whose poetry and prose have appeared in several online and print publications including: Red Fez, Rusty Truck, Outsider Writers Collective, Underground Voices, The Lilliput ReviewThe Main Street Rag, Zygote In My Coffee, The Camel Saloon, and Bartleby Snopes. He is the author of three books of poetry: The Noose Doesn't Get Any Looser After You Punch (Six Gallery Press, 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), and Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Press, 2014). He is also the author of the novel, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press, 2013). His chapbook In the Year of Everything Dying can be viewed via Camel Saloon’s Books on Blogs series (http://booksonblog26.blogspot.com/).