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'Tangelo', a new poem by Karen Rigby

June–July 2019, no. 412

'Tangelo', a new poem by Karen Rigby

June–July 2019, no. 412

Who doesn’t love the portmanteau
for tangerine and pomelo, or more like angel,
tango, words for wilderness,

how I like planting you (reader)
in the thick of it. Also known
as honeybell, the peel lifting off

like a capelet, the poem a long path
for getting at the flesh: its obdurate slickness.
A tangelo’s not a metaphor

for anything, which is why I love
its simple divisions. The pith a lacework
or dragnet. Where I’m from, a photo

of a bleeding vice president –
Guillermo Ford in his guayabera,
bludgeoned by gangs of the opposition –

went viral months before the invasion
of Panama. In 1989, savagery seeps
through what we know.

The tangelo’s no ritual, but it’s as good
as anything when it comes to hooking the past
through the eye of the present. I can let lightning

stitch my lip or forget a country with dead dictators.
It’s not the shape of a world that counts.             
It’s the weight in my closed palm.

Karen Rigby

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