Anatomy of a Lemon

Magdalena Ball

Lemons break down
surprisingly fast
thrown to the earth
by a resident possum
oils dissipating into soil.

I dreamt I picked one up
drinking juice from the open rind
as if it were a coconut
my head leaning back

scattered, scooped
under the tree
membrane, carpels, pith
shining yellow jewels on the path
waiting to slip you up.

Succour against a dry throat
my scurvy, my snapped future.

I never understood why defective
goods were called lemons.

I picked up my car from the service
rogue lemon rolling around in the back
bags like sunshine
distributed to everyone
in the neighbourhood
who wanted one.

Most did not, as everyone it seems
has a tree, with a resident possum
throwing lemons to the ground.

The smell was starting to rise
not unpleasant, it hit like memory
a fragrant flashback
reaching for where you had been.

I tried all night to find it/find you/find me
a citrus kick
eyes half open, groping like a lost child
aching for a language I no longer had
in a vision that was already over
your body desiccating in the desert
of your new world. 

I tried to phone you
on the telepathic line
which never really functions
my thinning eyebrows knitted
in concentration

while a symphony of lemon juice
played in the background.

It was a song about a possum and a tree
the possum long gone
the tree consumed by fire

sung in the mother tongue
from a time of abundance.


Magdalena Ball is a novelist, poet, reviewer and interviewer, and is the Managing Editor of Compulsive Reader. She has been widely published in literary journals, anthologies, and online, and is the author of several published books of poetry and fiction, including, most recently, The Density of Compact Bone (Ginninderra Press, 2021).

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