My Abuelo used to peel them for me— warm brilliant
spheres of varying sizes. He’d tear back their rinds in
tiny bits, as much as his aging fingers could manage,
then wrap them in plain white paper towels & place them
in proper yellow plastic bags, the ones from Sedanos.
He had his way of loving.
Too busy fumbling with the texture of my shame, I never
cared for citrus. I felt fruit a mess in my lap, in my
unlearned hands— too complicated in my mouth which
watered for nights out, bubbly, betraying sleep. When I left
Miami, I didn’t think he’d leave us— leveled myself more
worried to think Abuela would go. We didn’t know he’d be
the first, departing that November, or that they would meet
in dreams until just a year past when she’d pursue him to
I have carried many griefs & I can’t say which is
bigger but today, I wait for the Tangelo & cry
for the sting of citrus
in tiny splinters on my fingers.
Charisel Parla is a bilingual Cuban-American poet and educator. Her poetry explores the nuances and intersections of memory, grief, heritage, addiction, and identity. A native of Miami, FL, Charisel earned her MFA in Creative Writing from The University of San Francisco, and currently resides in Oakland, CA where she works with recently arrived immigrant youth.