Things to Remember, Orange

By Bessie Huang

Things to Remember

tears are made of old needles & twine / that have already rusted themselves over & taste / like the insides of empty aluminum / packets slick with expired oil, for / the best is just a periphrasis / for pain / for ninety decibels / is the only way to win an argument / for cold wrists pressed into their own reflections for cold cheeks pressed against portraits of thunder for cold bedrooms that smell of cinder & sin for solipsistic / screams / for a doughy rag is lodged / into the back of a crying girl’s throat / one that had been used to wipe the kitchen table / just minutes before / the neighborhood grows too quiet / for the kindergarten teacher pulls her out of recess to ask / about the imprint on her cheek / & she recites a story about a tennis game

“Tears” © Maria Jose Troncoso (


The sunset is russet
tonight, warm
like paste. You take
her out to see the sky tonight
and she spends a
galaxy mourning about
it. Most girls smell like rosewater
or pine or some type of cream
from L’Oréal but she smells like
the sea. If you close your eyes
against the side of her neck,
right above the brittle
collarbone, right below
piercing viridian—do
you see it? She is orange.
Fresh and minty and
hell in blood. Pour a glass of her
while you’re in pain and see
what that’ll do. You watch
her get ready in the morning and
she is shaving her legs
inside a festering mildew tub.
The bathroom smells of stale
silk when she’s done. Then
she’s in that strappy orange
dress you bought her three
anniversaries ago, two
years and three-hundred-sixty-four
days after she tells you that her favorite
color is orange, but also just two
days after she tells you that her favorite
color is orange, because you always
forget these fabricated
idiosyncrasies—you don’t
have to try that hard,
honey—and you
don’t even expect her to wear
the dress so you buy it
from a second-hand store
and figure you’re saving a few
bucks for tonight anyway.
And guess what?
She’s wearing that dress tonight.
And when you catch her smoking
cinder into a hotel
window during the day
you decide not to ask
why the room smells like fire.

Bessie Huang is a seventeen-year-old rising senior from Maryland. She is an alum of the Kenyon Young Writers Workshop. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Besides writing, some of her interests include reading, rock climbing, and yoga.

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