Archive for February 23rd, 2021

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Lemons by Toh Hsien Min

When life gives me lemons, I make lemonade.
As a boy, I detested the taste of lemons,
that sharp sourness captured in a grimace,
but recently I have had so much citrus fruit
that I’ve adjusted to the attack of the acid.
The other day I found myself biting into
lemon wedges for the juice, as though
they were orange slices.  It made me think
how during our university days we bought
bags of lemons from Sainsbury’s because
they were cheap.  I squeezed yellow halves
till my hands tingled for an hour, while you
turned a heap of sugar into syrup.  No matter
what we felt about that white snowdrift of guilt,
we knew through trying that there was a point
at which a virtuous loss of sweetness
turned to an uncomfortable biting of tongues,
and if we were to let doubt cool all morning
in the fridge we would have the poor choice
of hot syrup or watering down painfully
squeezed lemonade.  We hadn’t learnt, though,
that the same applies to unheaped denials,
that belief sustains the unspoken like a wound,
and that even if the nice thing about lemons
is that unlike blood oranges they don’t stain
no matter how careless you are with them,
their invisible ink shows when you try
suspected surfaces with heat.  I suppose
you can’t compare lemons and oranges,
but if you know the only red nettings to end up
in my fruit compartment hold Valencia oranges,
you’ll understand my surprise, with the wedges,
to have discovered aftertaste, the lingering
in the mouth of a peculiarly silky sweetness
that is inestimable relief after the assault.

From: http://mascarareview.com/toh-hsien-min/

Date: 2007

By: Toh Hsien Min (1975- )