← Issue 10
by Eileen Elizabeth
It was a rare autumn — the kind gentle enough to fade seamlessly from high summer into the pale embrace of winter like watercolor gradients. The light diffused for weeks, and somehow the sky withheld unpleasant weather as if it understood that the spirits of those beneath it hinged upon its cheerful quality. The occasional sunset dripped gold onto the cobbles, bathing us in starlight as we stumbled home in the evenings.
In those days, the whole of our universe spanned from the corners of your bed to the pub down the road and back to the sea. Those were kind days, composed harmoniously of routine and levity, to the tune of making breakfast, taking walks, sharing a bathroom mirror, and all those sundry things that make a life.
I kept house for you while you worked, hanging the laundry to dry and shaking the dust from my poems to fill my hours. When you came home from the hospital, early in the mornings, we would walk to breakfast, or sometimes I would make it for you, stirring spinach into the scrambled eggs and forgetting the pepper.
You have kind, dark eyes that scarcely seem to blink. Your name means Pure in Urdu. You wear doc martens to the beach and red lipstick like war paint.
Your skin hummed with the morning.
Greedily, I leaned into every morning with you. And another after that. And perhaps a few more. And thus we gathered a collection of days, like small, steadfast joys braced against the wind of our sacred years, and called it a life.
I have compartmentalized my love for you between the lines of poems, in the span of a few weeks of each year, between the crests of waves and folds of mountains. I carry you with me the way the Santa Ana winds carry the dust that stings my eyes.
My love letter to you is every orange blossom in spring, the way the pale winter light illuminates the Humber river, a smile from a stranger on your walk to the hospital. It has been enough to love you across the ocean, between lines of poems, in a few glorious weeks of autumn.
I live farther away from you than I ever have. On my street are orange trees. I think of sending you a crate of oranges, with a note, “find me.” I wonder if you would, or if too much has passed, or not enough.
If ever you do see paradise
send me an orange
Eileen Elizabeth is an essayist and poet living in Southern California. She is an MFA candidate in Nonfiction at University of California, Riverside.
Image: Title: A California Anomaly, Snow and Oranges, Pasadena, California, No. 7782 Publisher: Detroit Publishing Company (American)