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 (