Kwa-Zulu Natal, late August – by Fiona Cartwright

 

All afternoon we drive
past No Hawking signs beside
orange sellers in full sun, dust
coiling round their toes, unsheltered
by the bony branches of the trees.
There are only oranges to sell,
the fruits clinging to each other,
an outbreak of harvest moons,
the tiny navel hanging from each apex
an ungrown twin. No-one can buy

such an overflow of oranges,
although we try, squeezing
the last taste of a dry season
into our mouths. All afternoon,
I pass you segments, the juice gluing
your hands to the steering wheel.
I lick at the sap
dripping from my lip,
let you spit pips into my open hand.

 

 

 

Fiona Cartwright is a conservation biologist, poet and mother of two young daughters who lives near London, but wanders elsewhere as much as possible. Her poetry has previously appeared in various publications, including Mslexia, Butcher’s Dog, Envoi. Under the Radar and Ink, Sweat & Tears.

Machetes – by Fiona Cartwright

 

The men do not leave the house
without machetes.
They might come in handy

for harvesting fruit, for slitting
stems that snake around their feet
and trip them. The women

don’t feel the need.
Still, I’m grateful
as we walk back to the village

on an afternoon cracked open,
a yolk of sun frying
on the road’s bare earth.

My lip splits, I’m out of water
and tiny fruits of heat rash
bloom across my skin. A man

machetes down oranges.
I fingernail mine open.
They hack theirs apart with cutlasses.

They’re still slashing whilst I’m
sucking down the juice, eating
even the dust it sticks to my fingers.

 

 

 

 

Fiona Cartwright is a conservation biologist, poet and mother of two young daughters who lives near London, but wanders elsewhere as much as possible. Her poetry has previously appeared in various publications, including Mslexia, Butcher’s Dog, Envoi. Under the Radar and Ink, Sweat & Tears.